Essay on August Vollmer's Career in Law Enforcement

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August Vollmer was the police chief of Berkeley (CA) Police Department from 1905 to 1932. He served as the first professor of police administration at the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1930, and he was a professor of criminology at the University of California at Berkeley. He served for one year as the police chief of Los Angeles Police Department (1923-1924) and he was the President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police from 1921 to 1922. A progressive-minded chief and a key advocate for the police professionalization movement, Vollmer often held viewpoints that ran counter to many of his contemporary police chiefs. He was against police brutality and their use of the “third degree,” he opposed the death penalty,…show more content…
Vollmer spent much of his time working with his officers to perfect police procedures and adopting technology to police practices. He was an early proponent of deploying all of his police officers on bicycles, then motorcycles, then automobiles. He worked with his police officers to advance the use of communications systems, including an early red-light-recall system that let officers know to either call the station, or later, through Morse code, where to respond to. He advanced the use of the polygraph in policing, two way radios in the automobile, and he helped to create the first non-dedicated crime lab in America at Berkeley (1917) and the first dedicated crime lab in America in Los Angeles (1924). He was also the first to apply the use of Intelligence tests to screening for police officers, and he was a strong advocate for a Bureau of Identification first for California and later for the United States.
In addition to technology, Vollmer was also a firm believer in police training and education. He began by creating weekly in-service training classes every Friday afternoon and implementing a police academy for training new recruits. In 1916, working with members of the University of California, he created the first Criminology program that was aimed at providing his police officers with a degree in higher education, emphasizing police administration, and the application of scientific

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