Historic photos show police life in Sonoma County

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


A lot has changed for Sonoma County law enforcement officials since the early 1900s.

In the 1920s, Santa Rosa police officers patrolled the streets by bicycle. They called a cab to drop off suspected burglars and grabbed a wheelbarrow to deliver those who drank too much to jail. Before radios or patrol cars, they used a pay phone to call for backup.

In the 1950s, police officers and reporters had a reciprocal relationship. Journalists were allowed to walk around crime scenes, and when officers needed photographs, they called The Press Democrat for the shot.

Burglaries and bar fights were the common crimes in those early years.

When marijuana started to appear in the 1960s, the police chief had a local florist plant a few seeds to help officers identify a plant they had never seen before.

Show Comment

Our Network

Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine