Police Department History

Dedicated Service Since 1894
The Arcata Police Department was established on July 31, 1894 by the City Council of Arcata. A portion of the ordinance read, "It shall be the duty of the regular policeman, from sunset of each day, until sunrise the next morning to patrol the streets and watch and preserve the Town from fire, depredations, and the regular policeman shall, under the direction of the chief of police prevent breaches of peace therein, arrest public offenders, suppress riots, frays, duels, and disturbances of the peace and prevent all acts prohibited by laws or any ordinance of the Town."
Historic Police Car
Jail is Built
By 1870, Arcata began to feel the pressures placed upon law enforcement by an increasing population and growing community. As a result of an ever increasing need, a proposal was made by S. Meyers to build a jail or "lockup" as it was referred to in the minutes of the City Council on July 19, 1870. The Trustees of the City Council agreed that a jail was necessary and should be paid for out of the City tax funds.

The jail was built according to specifications on 8th St between "D" and "C" Streets. It was finished in September of 1870 and the total cost came to $181. In 1905 a second jail was built to replace the original structure which had served as long as it was valuable to do so. The new jail was located in the alley running perpendicular to 8th and 9th St. The second jail was a room 20 feet square and 12 feet high with 19 inch thick walls. This jail was condemned in 1948. Today, subjects to be jailed are taken to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility in Eureka.

Chiefs of Police
After the Arcata Police Department was established in 1894, the Town Marshal became Chief of Police. Frank M. Xiques continued his position as the most important law enforcement officer in Arcata until 1898, when Edward Nicholas took office. Edward Nicholas had been Marshal in 1885. In 1899, Len Yocum, who had acted as night watchman for Marshal Nichols, became Chief of Police and he served his community for nearly 15 years. Yocum resigned in September of 1914, when he went into the hardware business in Arcata.

Harry H. Howell took Yocum’s place as Chief of Police until 1916, when Peter Tracy became Chief. Chief Tracy served for 5 years. He was replaced by W.C. Devlin. Next, Charles Higgins served as Chief of Police for about 5 months before being replaced by B.A. Trimble in 1922. In 1925, L.T. Walter served until his death in 1942. At this time Arthur O. Larson who had been a member of the City Council for 22 months took the office of Chief of Police in February of 1942. In April of 1965, N.J. Gibson became Chief of Police, then Michael M. Manick in February of 1978, Joseph L. Maskovich in June of 1981, Douglas D. Krathwohl in February of 1988, Mel Brown in February of 1990, and Chris Gallagher in 2001. Chief Gallagher served Arcata until 2003, when Lt. Randy Mendosa was promoted to Chief. In January, 2010, Chief Mendosa was appointed Arcata City Manager.

On March 19, 2010, Tom Chapman was sworn-in as Arcata's 20th Chief of Police.