Born in New Orleans in 1876, August Vollmer and his family moved to Berkeley in 1890, where he helped run a supplies store and organize the North Berkeley Volunteer Fire Department before being elected police marshal in 1905. Vollmer remained in office (later as police chief) until 1932, his tenure interrupted only by a brief, unhappy dalliance with the LAPD.
As Berkeley gets ready to swear in Michael K. Meehan on Thursday as the city’s new police chief, perhaps it is appropriate to take a look back at the city’s very first chief. After all, he is credited with modernizing American policing.
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