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Records of the City of San Luis Obispo Police Department, including affidavits, letters, summons, and arrest records relating to the Police Courts, Recorder’s Office, and jail of the City of San Luis Obispo.
San Luis Obispo was formally recognized as a township in the State of California by a legislative act in February 1856. Since 1852 county law enforcement officers, including a Sheriff and County Judge, had been appointed bi-annually as the township experienced a slow transition from Spanish-Mexican law and traditional Western-settler customs to the newly adopted state and county procedures. Law administration, previously afforded by Spanish-Mexican law, by settler community consensus, and by groups known as “vigilance committees” (self-appointed enforcement committees) was still widely practiced throughout the state during the transition. Between 1856 and 1876 local practice shifted to officially elected and appointed law enforcement positions per California State and Federal procedures. The new roles included a Justice of the Peace, Marshal, Sheriff, Police Judge, Night Watchman, and Constables. In March of 1876 the town was officially incorporated as the City of San Luis Obispo and soon after City Council approved an ordinance creating the Board of Police Commissioners (May 15, 1876). The Board, consisting of the Mayor, Police Judge, and City Marshal, was responsible for appointing and governing a small police force consisting of a marshal and two officers. The first official Police Department was established with City Ordinance 31 approved on 1 November 1877. Ordinance Number 5, which had established the Board the year before, was repealed and superceded. The new ordinance included, among other changes, a statement in Section 6 requiring the marshal to “keep a register of arrests” detailing the suspect, the accused crime, and the location of the incident.
36 bound ledgers
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