San Diego Police Department

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San Diego Police Department
Abbreviation SDPD
Patch of the San Diego Police Department.png
Designed in 1988, these patches were originally brown to match the tan uniforms of the time.
Flag of San Diego, California.svg
Flag of San Diego, California
Motto America's Finest
Agency overview
Formed May 9, 1889
Employees 2781[1]
Volunteers 840[1]
Annual budget $277 million[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* City of San Diego in the state of California, United States
Population 1,400,000 residents
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters 1401 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
Sworn members approximately 2100 officers
Unsworn members approximately 600 support staff and non-sworn officers
Agency executive Shelley Zimmerman, Chief of Police
Stations 10+
San Diego Police Department
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.
San Diego Police ABLE helicopter
San Diego Police car in the city center

The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) is the primary law enforcement agency for the city of San Diego, California. The department was officially established on May 9, 1889.


Since the police department was formed in 1889, it has had a rich history, serving a very diverse city consisting of many constituents with competing interests.

The department operated primarily out of the City Hall until a new, state of the art police headquarters was constructed in 1938. The facility was located at 801 West Market Street in downtown, currently the intersection of Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway. The building was unique in that it was Spanish style, terracotta tile roof, with palm trees, large inner courtyards, and even had a bowling alley. The building held the city courts and jail at the same location. SDPD outgrew the facility and moved headquarters to the present location of 1401 Broadway in 1988. The old headquarters sat empty for over 20 years and almost faced demolition. The actions of the San Diego Police Historical Association saved the building, placing it on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. The building was remodeled in 2013, and opened as The Headquarters, a shopping and entertainment area located next to Seaport Village.

The department has played host to a number of world famous events, many of them leading to reforms and advances in law enforcement nationwide.

On April 8, 1965, the largest police shootout in U.S. history at the time occurred when a gunman entered the Hub Jewelry and Loan Company at Fifth Avenue and F Street downtown and murdered the store owner. Responding officers were greeted with gunfire, and during the shootout, the gunman and police fired more than 1,000 rounds. The shootout ended when Sergeant A. D. Brown went into the building armed with a shotgun. As he searched the building, Brown heard multiple clicks behind him. The suspect was pulling the trigger of his gun, but fortunately, the gun was loaded with the wrong ammo, and Sergeant Brown shot the suspect. The lack of an organized response to this incident led to the creation of what is now the special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team.

In 1976, the department created the Border Area Robbery Force. In response to violence against undocumented immigrants along the San Ysidro border, a group of SDPD officers dressed as immigrants and patrolled the canyon. The group was involved in many shootouts, resulting in the deaths of a number of bandits.

One of the wildest police chases in history involved the department. On May 17, 1995, Shawn Nelson, an unemployed plumber with a military background, stole a National Guard M60A3 Patton tank and drove through the Mesa College area in a rampage, leading police officers on a nationally televised chase. Nelson was eventually shot and killed by police, being the only casualty in the incident.

The police department was at the center of the very famous Supreme Court of the United States and Ninth Circuit cases Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983),[2][3] which held unconstitutional laws that allow police to demand that "loiterers" and "wanderers" provide identification; this continues to affect other departments nationwide.[4][5][6]

Historical association[edit]

The San Diego Police Historical Association, a separate non-profit that works closely with the department, operates a museum of department history, and keeps a fleet of approximately 25 historic vehicles. The museum is free and open to the public, and the vehicles are used in parades and special events.

Ranks of the SDPD[edit]

Title Insignia Insignia located
4 Gold Stars.svg
Uniform Collar
Executive Assistant Chief
3 Gold Stars.svg
Uniform Collar
Assistant Chief
2 Gold Stars.svg
Uniform Collar
Captain insignia gold.svg
Uniform Collar
US-O1 insignia.svg
Uniform Collar
NYPD Sergeant Stripes.svg
Uniform Sleeve
Police Officer III
No Special Insignia
Police Officer II
No Special Insignia
Police Officer I
No Special Insignia
Police Recruit
No Special Insignia


Patrol cars are outfitted with secure locks for shotguns, as well as either AR-15 or carbine rifles. Officers are required to purchase their own rifles for use on duty if they so choose. Officers carry an array of non-lethal weapons, including the X26 Taser, expandable or straightstick baton, OC spray, and most vehicles are equipped with a bean bag shotgun. The department operates with various Motorola digital/encrypted police radios.[citation needed]


The standard Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is the staple of the department. It is being phased out as of 2013 because Ford is no longer making the vehicle. After extensive testing, the SDPD will now be using the Ford Police Interceptor Utility.

The department also uses Ford Econoline vans for prisoner transport, bicycle team, and the Homeless Outreach Team transport.

A number of full sized Ford Explorers and Expeditions are used for beach team and canyon patrol activities, phasing out older Chevrolet Tahoes. Newer Tahoes were ordered recently for use by field command staff.

Special Operations have a number of vehicles, including 8 mobile command vehicles, SWAT armoured tanks/Bearcat and command vans, Emergency Negotiations command, and SkyWatch surveillance towers.

Traffic Division, housing the department's Accident Investigation Bureau and Motorcycle teams, operate with BMW police motors. Traffic Division also covers the city Parking Enforcement Officers, who primarily drive CIE Go-4 Interceptor III three-wheeled vehicles. Parking Enforcement are starting to use electric-powered Smart cars for enforcement.

Historically, the department has gone back and forth between black/white and all white vehicles, and currently uses the black/white design with the four passenger doors painted white. The newer Police Intercepter SUVs will only have the front two doors and roof painted white. The San Diego city seal is centered on the door, with the department motto "America's Finest" above the seal, and "To Protect and Serve" below. Historic cars used to have the motto "Your Safety...Our Business" on the lower door, which was discontinued in the 1970s.

Line of duty deaths[edit]

Since the department's establishment, 32 officers have died in the line of duty.[7]

Name Date of Death Cause
Officer Emery E. Campbell 27 Aug 1913 Gunfire[8]
Sergeant Oliver S. Hopkins 02 Jul 1915 Vehicular assault[9]
Patrolman Walter B. Holcomb 21 Oct 1918 Spanish flu from transporting the ill[10]
Officer Joseph S. Lee 19 Mar 1921 Vehicle pursuit[11]
Detective Charles R. Harris 03 Apr 1927 Gunfire[12]
Officer Robert Lee Powers 16 Jun 1928 Vehicular assault[13]
Patrolman Robert B. McPherson 19 Sep 1929 Assault[14]
Patrolman Edward J. Moore 15 Jan 1933 Gunfire[15]
Patrolman Thomas A. Keays 20 Nov 1937 Heart attack[16]
Officer Henry J. Goodrich 07 Sep 1940 Motorcycle accident[17]
Patrolman Robert F. Bowers 12 Dec 1955 Vehicle pursuit[18]
Sergeant Harry Kay Jr. 11 Mar 1957 Automobile accident[19]
Patrolman Michael J. Bushman 25 Nov 1963 Automobile accident[20]
Sergeant Robert L. Everitt 07 Dec 1964 Struck by vehicle[21]
Patrolman James P. Lewis 29 Dec 1970 Gunfire[22]
Sergeant Freddie Joel Edwards 07 Oct 1971 Gunfire[23]
Patrolman Denis W. Allen 02 Apr 1977 Gunfire[24]
Patrolman Archie C. Buggs 04 Nov 1978 Gunfire[25]
Patrolman Michael T. Anaya 11 Apr 1979 Gunfire[26]
Patrolman Dennis Glenn Gonzales 25 Jun 1979 Struck by vehicle[27]
Patrolman Harry Keith Tiffany 06 Jun 1981 Gunfire[28]
Patrolman Ronald R. Ebeltoft 06 Jun 1981 Gunfire[29]
Patrolman Kirk Leland Johnson 20 Feb 1983 Gunfire[30]
Police Officer Kimberly Sue Tonahill 14 Sep 1984 Gunfire[31]
Patrolman Timothy J. Ruopp 16 Sep 1984 Gunfire[32]
Agent Thomas E. Riggs 31 Mar 1985 Gunfire[33]
Patrolman Jerry L. Hartless 31 Jan 1988 Gunfire[34]
Officer Ronald Wayne Davis 17 Sep 1991 Gunfire[35]
Officer Gerald Kieffer Griffin Jr. 25 Apr 2003 Struck by vehicle[36]
Officer Terry William Bennett 26 Jun 2003 Vehicular assault[37]
Officer Christopher A. Wilson 27 Oct 2010 Gunfire[38]
Officer Jeremy Henwood 06 Aug 2011 Gunfire[39]
Officer Jason Prokop 01 Oct 2011 Struck by Vehicle[40]


Om March 11, 2011, San Diego policeman Anthony Arevalos was arrested on 18 charges related to traffic stops he conducted between 2009 and 2011. He was accused of sexual assault in one instance and for asking women for their underwear in exchange for not being cited.[41] In November,a jury found him guilty of several charges including felony charges of sexual battery by restraint and assault and battery by an officer.[42] Lawsuits against the city resulted in agreements to pay more than two million dollars relating to Arevalos' crimes.[43]

In February 2011, Sergeant Ken Davis was charged with one count of felony stalking and three counts of repeated harassing by phone or electronic contact relating to his conduct towards another police officer. Davis pleaded not guilty and was put on paid administrative duty while on trial.[44] He later pled guilty in exchange for a sentence of three years of probation and ten days of community service.[45]

In July 2012, Officer Daniel Dana pled no contest to committing a lewd act in public, a misdemeanor charge, in exchange having the felony charge of sexually assaulting a prostitute dropped. It stemmed from a May 2011 event where Dana coerced a prostitute to have sex with him in his patrol car. Dana left the police force following the charge.[46]

In November 2014, two married SDPD officers, Bryce and Jennifer Charpentier were arrested for burglarizing peoples homes in the San Diego Area to steal prescription pain killers to feed their drug addiction. They were both subsequently terminated from SDPD, and sentenced to three years in prison.[47]

Cadet program[edit]

The San Diego Police Department Cadet Program (SDPD) is a voluntary, non-enforcement entry level position with the San Diego Police Department for people ages 16–21. After a six-session academy, Cadets may choose to go on ride-alongs, assist with security and traffic control, work undercover and much more.[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ "Kolender v. Lawson". United States Reports (Supreme Court of the United States) 461: 352. May 2, 1983. 
  3. ^ "Lawson v. Kolender". United States Federal Reports (United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit) 2 (658): 1362. Oct 15, 1981. 
  4. ^ "NYPD's 'stop-and-frisk' practice unconstitutional, judge rules". Reuters. Aug 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ "L.A. County Sheriff's Department violated rights of blacks, Justice Department says". Los Angeles Times. June 28, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Investigation of Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department Stations in Antelope Valley". US Department of Justice. June 28, 2013. 
  7. ^ The San Diego Police Department at the Officer Down Memorial Page
  8. ^ "ODMP Remembers Emery E. Campbell". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "ODMP Remembers Oliver S. Hopkins". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "ODMP Remembers Walter B. Holcomb". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "ODMP Remembers Joseph S. Lee". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  12. ^ "ODMP Remembers Charles R. Harris". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  13. ^ "ODMP Remembers Robert Lee Powers". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  14. ^ "ODMP Remembers Robert B. McPherson". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  15. ^ "ODMP Remembers Edward J. Moore". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  16. ^ "ODMP Remembers Thomas A. Keays". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  17. ^ "ODMP Remembers Henry J. Goodrich". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  18. ^ "ODMP Remembers Robert F. Bowers". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  19. ^ "ODMP Remembers Harry Kay Jr.". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "ODMP Remembers Michael J. Bushman". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  21. ^ "ODMP Remembers Robert L. Everitt". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  22. ^ "ODMP Remembers James P. Lewis". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  23. ^ "ODMP Remembers Freddie Joel Edwards". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  24. ^ "ODMP Remembers Denis W. Allen". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  25. ^ "ODMP Remembers Archie C. Buggs". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  26. ^ "ODMP Remembers Michael T. Anaya". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  27. ^ "ODMP Remembers Dennis Glenn Gonzales". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  28. ^ "ODMP Remembers Harry Keith Tiffany". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  29. ^ "ODMP Remembers Ronald R. Ebeltoft". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  30. ^ "ODMP Remembers Kirk Leland Johnson". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  31. ^ "ODMP Remembers Kimberly Sue Tonahill". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  32. ^ "ODMP Remembers Timothy J. Ruopp". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  33. ^ "ODMP Remembers Thomas E. Riggs". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  34. ^ "ODMP Remembers Jerry L. Hartless". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  35. ^ "ODMP Remembers Ronald Wayne Davis". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  36. ^ "ODMP Remembers Gerald Kieffer Griffin Jr.". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  37. ^ "ODMP Remembers Terry William Bennett". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  38. ^ "ODMP Remembers Christopher A. Wilson". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  39. ^ "ODMP Remembers Jeremy Henwood". ODMP. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  40. ^ Kristina Davis; J. Harry Jones (1 October 2011). "SDPD officer one of two dead in I-15 crashes". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  41. ^ Ex-Cop Wanted Victim's Panties: Court Docs Documents show the alleged perverted behavior of this 18-year veteran cop could go back as far as 15 years, by R. Stickney and Rory Devine 13 May 2013,
  42. ^ Jury Convicts Ex-Cop of Sexual Battery, Assault Former police officer Anthony Arevalos was cuffed and escorted from the courtroom after the verdicts were read, by R. Stickney and Eric S. Page. 18 November 2011,
  43. ^ City to Pay $795K in Arevalos Settlement, by Sherene Tagharobi, R. Stickney and Paul Krueger, 27 September 2013,
  44. ^ Sergeant Accused of Stalking Officer: Sgt. Ken Davis has been placed on paid administrative leave, by Paul Krueger, 14 April 2011,
  45. ^ SDPD Officer Guilty of Stalking, by Lindsay Hood, Paul Krueger, and R. Stickney 27September 2011,
  46. ^ Perry, Tony (18 July 2012). "Former San Diego police officer pleads no contest to lewd act -". Los Angeles Times (San Diego, California). Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  47. ^
  48. ^ San Diego Police Department > Career Opportunities > CADET

External links[edit]