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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography/Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Additional collection guides

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: City of San Luis Obispo Police Department Ledgers
    Dates: 1881 - 1978
    Collection Number: MS0188
    Creator/Collector: San Luis Obispo Police Department
    Extent: 36 bound ledgers
    Online items available
    Repository: California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo. Special Collections and Archives
    San Luis Obispo, California 93407
    Abstract: 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.
    Language of Material: English


    Collection is open to researchers by appointment. For more information on visiting, access policies, and reproduction requests, please visit our Reference Services page online at http://lib.calpoly.edu/search-and-find/collections-and-archives/reference-services/.

    Publication Rights

    Digital copies are provided to researchers for the purpose of study, research, and personal use only, unless otherwise specified in writing. Materials that are the property of Cal Poly Special Collections and Archives require written permission prior to publication. No complete collection may be reproduced. For print and online publication, please visit our Reproduction Services page online at http://lib.calpoly.edu/support/sca-policies/reproduction/. Special Collections and Archives reserves the right to review all reproduction requests and to withhold permission if scanning would endanger the material, would violate copyright law, or would violate institutional restrictions.

    Preferred Citation

    City of San Luis Obispo Police Department Ledgers. California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo. Special Collections and Archives

    Acquisition Information


    Biography/Administrative History

    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.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The City of San Luis Obispo Police Department Ledgers collection contains the court dockets, arrest records, jail records, complaints and affidavits occurring in the City of San Luis Obispo. The records reflect the years of 1881 to 1978 and in many cases contain the names of the arresting officers, the accused, the plaintiffs, and judges. Records also reflect sentencing as assigned by the court.

    Indexing Terms

    San Luis Obispo Police Department
    Law Enforcement
    San Luis Obispo Police Department
    San Luis Obispo
    Sheriff Justice of the Peace Constable

    Additional collection guides