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O.W. Wilson

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Police Administration
James J Fyfe  More Info
Police planning,
O. W Wilson  More Info
Police records: Their installation and use
O. W Wilson  More Info

About the Berkeley Police Department:

The City of Berkeley was incorporated in 1878. The City was policed by a elected town Marshal. In addition the Marshal was assisted by elected Constables. Through these years the Marshal and Constables mostly served papers and seldom arrested without a warrant. Crime increased through the turn of the century. In 1905, August Vollmer was elected town Marshal. In 1909, he was appointed as this City's first Chief of Police. Chief August  Vollmer was instrumental in organizing this department, creating what we now call a "Code of Ethics", which included eliminating the acceptance of gratuities, rewards or favors."   Chief August Vollmer demanded a high level of honesty, efficiency, interest and hard work by his officers. This has continued to this day, which has been the foundation for our world wide reputation in the law enforcement field.


Chief August Vollmer is considered by some as the father of modern day law enforcement. His progressive thinking and use of new innovations in law enforcement became the foundation that our department has built on. Some of the early innovations by Chief Vollmer and this department were: In 1906, the department installed a basic records system (One of the first in the United States); In 1906, installed the first Modus Operandi (MO) System; In 1907, first use of scientific investigation (Kelinschmidt case - analysis of blood, fibers and soil).; In 1907, the department's police school was established. It included instruction from professors on such subjects as the law and evidence procedures. This was the first school of its kind in the world and had a far reaching effect on law enforcement; In 1911, organized the first Police Motorcycle Patrol; In 1913, changed to automobiles for patrolling; In 1916, Chief Vollmer established the first School of Criminology at University of California, at Berkeley. Chief Vollmer became a strong advocate of college educated police officers; In 1918, began using intelligence tests in recruiting police officers; In 1920, the first lie detector instrument was developed at University of California and used by our department; In 1921, began using a psychiatric screening in recruitment; In 1923, the first Junior Traffic Police Program was established; In 1924, established one of the first single fingerprint systems; In 1925, established our first Crime Prevention Division and hired the first Police Woman.





O.W. Wilson obtained his degree in Criminology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1924.  To pay for his tuition, he joined the Berkley Police Department, serving under another famous police officer, scholar and writer, August Vollmer.  O. W. Wilson went on to become influential police scholar as well as the chief of police of the Fullerton Police Department (California) and chief of police of the Wichita Police Department (Kansas); and, the superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.  During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army as a public safety officer.


O.W. Wilson is the author of at least three books on policing and law enforcement: Police records: Their Installation and Use; Police Planning; and, Police Administration.  O.W. Wilson’s book, Police Administration, is one of the most influential books in America on local law enforcement.  Indeed, it was revised in 1996 and is used today in many colleges and universities.  According to the revision description, “perhaps no other book in policing has captured more admiration and market share than O.W. Wilson's "Police Administration". Now Wilson's text has been revised by three top scholars in the field. This long awaited revision combines the nuts and bolts approach of the original with an up-to-date theoretical and policy perspective that makes it accessible to students and practitioners alike.”

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