Department History

PathA Short History of the San Marino Police Department

When the City of San Marino was first incorporated in 1913 it did not have its own police department. During its early years, the only police protection deemed necessary was a City Marshal. The first, Norbert Murray, prided himself on never having made an arrest. However as the City began to grow and crime made its way into the community, two deputy City Marshals were added in October of 1918. In 1924, then Deputy Marshal Ben Parker was appointed the Cities first police chief. He served until 1934.

Throughout the 1920’s, Chief Parker and his men had continued problems with a popular and well-known gambling den at 1090 Old Mill Road. Half the residence was in San Marino, the other half in Pasadena. A number of raids were conducted, however guards, an alarm system and what police believed to be honeycombed secret passageways prevented the San Marino police officer from making arrests. Believing the local police did not take these violations seriously, the District Attorneys office took over the investigation in 1929 and conducted a raid resulting in fifteen arrests and the confiscation of several roulette wheels and dice tables.

In 1934, Gene Woods took the helm having nine officers under his command. February 17, 1934 brought with it San Marino’s first home invasion robbery. While hosting a dinner party at 2900 Monterey Road, Joseph Keller was confronted by two bandits who stole mink coats, diamond rings and everyone’s money. By1946 the Department had grown to twenty men, giving the City 24-hour protection for the first time.

In 1954 Chief Glenn McClung took command at the same time a string of burglaries plagued the City. Officer Albert Lemke happened upon a suspicious man entering a rear yard with no car near by. He requested assistance from the colorful Captain Norwine. The house was surrounded and a suspect refused to come out peacefully. The man eventually fled out the front door, refused officers orders and was shot twice. The man lived and the burglaries stopped.

In 1958 Chief Joseph Miller was appointed and held the position until 1963. He was followed by Chief James Moore in 1963, who was noted as the longest and most senior-sitting Chief in Los Angeles County until his retirement in 1987.

Throughout the seventies and eighties several noted crimes occurred in San Marino. On July 15, 1975 the attempted kidnapping of Andrew Colace occurred. The highly equipped and intelligent felons rented a limousine, and attempted to force their way into the Colace’s residence, with a ransom note to be placed on the kitchen counter. The family was able to lock themselves in rooms thwarting the kidnapping.

Beginning in 1987, Jack Yeske served as San Marino’s seventh Chief of Police. Under Chief Yeske’s tenure, the deadliest shootout in Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) history occurred. An undercover drug operation taking place in Pasadena went bad, resulting in the death of two DEA agents. A car chase ensued, ending at Monterey Road and Old Mill Road where the suspects’ car crashed. A gun battle erupted between the suspects and pursuing Agents, resulting in the death of two armed drug dealers and the arrest of a third.

Paul Butler, appointed Police Chief in 1991, served only one year before accepting the position of Police Chief in the city of Glendora.

In a split from past history, in 1993 the city went outside for its top gun and appointed Frank J. Wills, a seventeen-year veteran with the Pasadena Police Department, as the new Police Chief. Wills captivated the community until his departure to head the West Covina Police Department in 1998.

In July 1999, City Manager Debra Bell appointed Arl L. Farris to head the Department. In September 2005, Chief Farris retired from the Department and Gary A. Isaacs, formerly the Police Captain, was named Police Chief. 

Chief Isaacs retired after 27 years with the San Marino Police Department in October 2007. 

John T. Schaefer was appointed Police Chief effective October 15, 2007.  In July of 2012, John Schaefer stepped down as Police Chief to assume the role of City Manager. 

Captain Timothy M. Harrigan was promoted to Chief of Police on July 1, 2012.  Chief Harrigan retired in December of 2014. 

John Incontro was appointed Chief of Police on December 15, 2014.  Chief Incontro brought with him 35 years of service and knowledge from the Los Angeles Police Department. 



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