San Francisco Police Department

By , Writer
San Francisco Police Department Patrol Car

    San Francisco Police Department Patrol Car Source: Permission:

    San Francisco Police Department Patrol Car Source: Permission:

San Francisco Police Department began with a colorful history, is responsible for many "firsts" and continues today as one of the leading community-focused police forces in the United States.

A Little History

In August 1849 the San Francisco City Council selected Malachi Fallon as San Francisco's first Captain (Chief) of Police. He had one deputy, three sergeants and thirty officers, but he didn't have an office or a jail house. He decided to use a one-room school house on Portsmouth Square on Clay Street that had become deserted when the children left with their families to pan for gold in the hills.

In 1951 Captain Fallon convinced the City Council to purchase a type of ship called a brigantine for $3,500. The ship was owned by one of the Councilmen. The brigantine, called "the brig" by the locals, was outfitted as a jail and moored off the central wharf area, close to Commercial Street and Battery. It was sold in 1951 because it was not secure and prisoners frequently escaped.

After the 1906 earthquake Police Chief Jeremiah Dinan ordered all police records to be taken out of the burning Hall of Justice and moved to Portsmouth Square. A canvas was placed over the documents to protect them from the flying cinders from the buildings burning nearby. At one point the canvas was in serious jeopardy of burning and the police officers guarding the documents were forced to pour bottles of beer from the saloon across the street on the flames to keep the documents from burning.

The San Francisco Police Department

The City of San Francisco and San Francisco County encompass the same geographical area. This is the reason that the police department provides the policing activities for both the city and the county.

The department's motto is Oro en paz, fierro en Guerra, which is Spanish for Gold in Peace, Iron in War.

The department is divided into four bureaus:

  • Administration - Responsible for all support functions to the SFPD including the Behavioral Science Unit, the Fiscal Division, the Planning Division, the Staff Services Division and the Training and Education Division
  • Airport - Responsible for the security and safety of the San Francisco International Airport
  • Field Operations - Responsible for both patrol divisions, traffic, youth services and Homeland Security
  • Investigations - Responsible for forensics, property and personal crimes, robbery, narcotics and vice

The department is known for its many firsts including:

  • First in the United States to use fingerprinting to identify criminals
  • First to use motorcycles as patrol vehicles
  • First policy academy in the United States
  • First to devise a modern record-keeping system
  • One of the first departments to hire women
  • First Asian American woman to head a major metropolitan city police force - Heather Fong who became Chief of Police in 2004.

Finding a Station

Whether it's by car, horse in Golden Gate Park, boat on the bay, bike in the Tenderloin, on foot in the Castro or riding the MUNI, the 2,000+ officers of the San Francisco Police Department are always ready to serve the citizens of San Francisco, preventing and fighting crime.The department is divided into two divisions and then further divides into districts:

  • Metro Division - This division serves the downtown areas of the Marina, Civic Center, North Beach, Chinatown, the Tenderloin, South of Market and the Mission District. There are five stations in this division:
    • Central Station: 766 Vallejo Street, San Francisco 94133, (415) 315-2400
    • Mission Station: 630 Valencia Street, San Francisco 94110, (415) 558-5400
    • Northern Station: 1125 Fillmore Street, San Francisco 94115, (415) 614-3400
    • Southern Station: 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco 94103, (415) 553-1373
    • Tenderloin Station: 301 Eddy Street, San Francisco 94102, (415) 345-7300
  • Golden Date Division - This is a combination of the Traffic Company that covers all the traffic accident, enforcement and flow issues in the City as well as the district stations in the outer areas and neighborhoods of the Richmond, Sunset, Outer Mission, Ingleside, Excelsior, Bayview and Hunter's Point. There are five stations in this division:
    • Bayview Station: 201 Williams Street, San Francisco 94124, (415) 671-2300
    • Ingleside Station: 1 Sgt. John V. Young Lane, San Francisco 94112, (415) 404-4000
    • Park Station: 1899 Waller Street, San Francisco 94117, (415) 242-3000
    • Richmond Station: 461 6th Avenue, San Francisco 94118, (415) 666-8000
    • Taraval Station: 2345 24th Avenue, San Francisco 94116, (415) 759-3100