In 1850, miners flocked into California in search of gold and the fortune it promised them. They came into Stockton, a small tent town with a minimum of laws. The first jail here was a French brig, the "Susanne," located at Mormon Slough near Center Street. It was rented to local officials for $300 a month. Gold was then worth about $16 an ounce. Gambling was rampant, so gambling houses were many and anywhere in this makeshift camp. The population was overwhelmingly male and from all walks of life. Cheating and robbery were the usual activities of the day, and it was quickly realized that a certain kind of man was needed to control the crime in the streets.
The Stockton Police Department was founded August 14, 1850. The first Chief of Police was City Marshal W.W. Willoughby. The City Marshal was authorized to hire no more than 20 men as day and night policemen. Of these 20 men, he was required to structure his department with a Police Captain, an Assistant Captain, and two Sergeants.
On Saturday, August 17, 1850, at one o'clock in the afternoon, the following men were sworn as members of the first Police Department of Stockton:
- Captain John D. Callahan
- Assistant Captain S.G. Philips
- Sergeant Samuel Catts
- Sergeant Philip McClusky
- Officers: Elihu White, Peter Earl, James Lynch, Charles Thurston, Charles W. Bradford, Thomas Sayer, Samuel Gensler, Lucian Fletcher, Michael Hart, Peter Wood, Henry W. Derby and Alexander Jackson.
The first station house was located at the corner of Center and Market Streets. In February 1861, the City Council created the position of Chief of Police. The annual salary was $900, and the chief would be elected by the public. On May 6, 1862, George E. Taber was elected the first Chief of Police for the City of Stockton. In 1886, Stockton Police Officers were required to wear blue uniforms and a six-point star badge. In October 1889, a new uniform was decided upon by the Chief.
The uniform frock coat worn by Oakland Police Officers was agreed upon and cost around $50 or $60 each. The San Francisco-style star was chosen as the badge and was made of silver. Each badge cost $5. In 1907, the Department had grown to 18 members which included the Chief, Officers, and clerks. The population was around 25,000, and the Police Department handled about 600 cases per year. In 1908, the Chief required all police officers to appear for a day of field efficiency testing; this included each officer running 100 yards and a 50-yard revolver practice.