Posts Tagged With: Alameda County Sheriff’s Archive Association


Law enforcement museums and archives are scarce. There have been laws of secrecy surrounding police activities that have changed. Not what you think. Secrecy by law for inmate privacy, for instance. No pictures of inmates could be published, nor any broad information about officers who feared retaliation from former inmates was published. In fact, when Gleason was sheriff, his edict was if an officer (not during a criminal event) made the newspapers, it was a fire-able offense. Near the end of his term, Gleason relaxed that rule.

Rules about records are still in place.  They are saved for about 30 years or so and tossed. That is history tossed. When ACSAA first organized, in 1989, no police museums open to the public existed in the State of California and very few in the United States.  The only histories were in private corners of a department, or in local historical society records, all of which brings me to a major reorganization of the ACSAA. We are a non-profit, volunteer organization, but under Sheriff Greg Ahern, we are being recognized and appreciated like never  before. And, here are the new organizers.

IMG_2730 (Copy)Dale Toussaint, on the left with Pat Adams. Dale was the guy who took over. He joined the National Organization of Archivists and is learning how to handle archival written material, artifacts and how to assession material professionally. On Wednesday, he held the first recruitment/organizational meeting.

IMG_2728 (Copy)Mike Rores and Frank Buschhueter

IMG_2737 (Copy)Tim Ostlund, Frank Silva and Patty Stinson. Patty Stinson is unique because she is the oldest women to pass the Academy as a deputy,  plus she is an artist and produced three giant murals for the Office of Emergency Services at the Santa Rita Base, which I will blog later.

IMG_2731 (Copy)Chris Ostlund and Ralph Striker.IMG_2733 (Copy)Patty with Dwane Montes.

IMG_2738 (Copy)Bill Gordillo with Mike Rores.

IMG_2748 (Copy)Jesus Ureste.

IMG_2736 (Copy)Bud Harlan with Dwane Montes. Bud is the only volunteer from the old days when I ran the archive.  He has been a great contributor and a steady presence at the archive. For myself, I feel my greatest contribution has been the interviews I’ve done recording experiences in the department as it changed over the generations. During the seven plus years I’ve been on the road with Jim, I still managed an interview or two a year. I hope to continue that practice. In fact I was given the names of Jim Wilson, 84 years, and Bud Garrigan as two must interviews. On my own personal list I have Bud Harlan, and one of the original volunteers, Jim Rasche.

As I get to know people, I hope to continue interviews when I can. More on my two-day trek to the Bay Area tomorrow.  (I hope I got everyone’s name right. If not, please correct me.)




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From everything I read, networking with friends and family is healthy. Meet my high-school friend, Faye Gebo. If I’m lucky, I get to see her about once a year or every other year. I spent Wednesday night with she and her partner, Dave Goodwin.

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Her only child, Celeste is like one of those miracle babies, it almost didn’t happen. I haven’t seen Celeste in about 6 or 7 years. She loves the para-normal, high adventure, nature, and her fur children.

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This is only part of the family.

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Through Faye’s living room window, we watched a parade of jack rabbits, cotton tails, ground squirrels and ducks. They see deer, and infrequent foxes and coyotes, too.

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Somehow, I just never tire of watching wildlife of any type.

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Dave is an avid golfer, three times a week, at least. We went to his favorite Mexican Restaurant for dinner. Afterward we played a silly game, called “What’s Your’s Like?” Dave commented, “It brings up topics for conversation,” and it did.

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On Thursday morning, I made my way to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Archive and Museum. Bud Harlan, former deputy sheriff and avid volunteer was discussing the old Harlan Family House with two visiting archivists from Dublin. The house is from Contra Costa County and is on the National Register of Historical Places.  Bud has family records going back to the 1800’s from the Livermore Valley.

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A third archivist, lost his hearing in an accident, from a blow to the head. Totally deaf, he prefers to use a microphone to talk to people. I’ve never seen an apparatus quite like his, but it was very comfortable talking to him this way.

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The Association President, Bill Rhodes is very good about finding better ways to display our collections. His strength is in the museum end of things. The uniforms, and regalia of all types are here. And, the sign, Fick The Pugs has an interesting story. It is a replica of a butcher paper sign as wide as a building from the 1960’s protests in Berkeley. The protestors at that time were much too polite to reverse the P and the F. Now the F word is so common, it amazes me to this day.

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During that riot, the deputies were given birdshot and told to reload their rifles and replace the buckshot. But, someone failed to do that, or didn’t unload enough of the buckshot and a another protestor sign went up over a building with holes in the windows proving that was the case. The sign, partially hidden reads:  Birdshot?? Bulls_it! Buckshot.

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Every time I go, there is something new, or newly placed. The group has made good use of the old, and now rebuilt, guard tower to display items. They electrified the guard tower and will have an old siren and a search light operable for demonstrations when visitors come. The original building did not have electricity. It was electrified later and the light and siren added. The original tower had a sign on the door reading:  “Aim the B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle) away from the Highway when firing at inmates.”  That sign was actually original from Camp Shoemaker days. The Sheriff got the property from the Federal Government. There are many stories in this building, some funny, others desperate and still others heroic.  If you know a story about this place, contact me and I’ll record it for the archive.

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When I started travel blogging, I neglected old haunts and activities. The Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs Archive Association is a powerful pull for me and I was grateful to be home in time for the March meeting. Instead of comptometers, teletypes and adding machines,  we have electronic gadgets of superior performance that replace them. The jail I knew was a friendly place instead of a lock down prison as it is today. Much has changed. One officer told me:  “This place is probably safer for both officer and inmate, but it has no soul.”

I’m  going to cite some simple facts about incarceration today just as food for thought.

The United States has earned the distinction of being the world’s largest jailer, ahead of China and Russia. With 5 percent of the world’s population, we have 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

We have well over 2 million people in prison. Two million people not working, not supporting their children and living off the taxpayers for their room, board, and medical care.  And, they are enduring mandatory longer sentences so we will be caring for them much longer than any danger they can present to society. We also render them “non citizens” who cannot participate in our democracy, who because of stigma, can no longer work or be productive without draconian effort if and when they do get out.

Mandatory sentencing, War on Drugs, Tough On Crime, Three Strikes Your Out, all political sound bites turned into hard legislation, have done little to protect the public. We now have overcrowded prisons burdening taxpayers.

White Americans commit crimes at the same rates as people of color. Biased enforcement and sentencing make a disproportionate number of Blacks and Latinos pay the price.  One in nine young black men (age 20-34) is behind bars.

Nearly half of all state prisoners are locked up for nonviolent offenses. We are seeing a resurgence of debtors prisons. Thousands of people are jailed because they are two poor to pay fines for traffic tickets or other misdemeanors.

The U.S. Prison population rose by 700% from 1970-2005, outpacing the general population rate and the crime rate.

Spending on incarceration in 2007 was $44 billion rising 127% from 1987.   In that same period of time spending on education rose 21%.

Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo, as promised, has implications far beyond the fate of men detained in prison. Indefinite detention is an erosion in our personal liberties, and our American values.

I don’t pretend to know the answer. I know it alarms me.

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These young  police officers were all killed on the same day, March 21, 2009. Remembered on this t-shirt, which was displayed at an Alameda County Deputy Sheriff’s Association Dinner event at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Convention center over the weekend. I’ve been very close to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Archive Association since its inception as one of its founding members.  I’ve followed its growth as it has  morphed from an archive to part museum, and I’ve participated with other volunteers to help preserve the history of the department, both statistical and personal.
Important to me is that people understand police culture; the semi-militaristic bent of police work. Cops find  family in each other; its a brotherhood and sisterhood; a bonding that doesn’t happen in most ordinary jobs because your desk mate will probably never be called upon to be your back up in a life or death situation. To each other they offer an  understanding of the stresses of the job they’ve taken; they share a humor only understood by other cops; sometimes macabre, sometimes hilariously human. And, they know the job they do isn’t perfect, as they deal with contrary laws, and angry humans set in an adversarial role as society expects cops to punish, incarcerate, deprive, protect and sometimes even kill for the public good.

The Sheriff’s Department Bed-n-Breakfast, an inside view of cop humor.

In earlier times, justice was meted out swiftly with little regard for anyone’s “rights.” If you were caught on a stolen horse, you were guilty without question. Even though we know that isn’t the way it should have been done, we sometimes long for that simplicity to maintain “law and order”.

And, no matter what precautions you take, an inmate can always fashion a deadly weapon, be it a broken CD wrapped in fabric, a magazine rolled into a sock, a sharpened toothbrush, comb, or deadly stem from someone’s eyeglasses.

The cops confiscate hundreds of these weapons and take them away, along with gang identifications as in these belt buckles-

Patty Hearst’s backpack was displayed at this event along with a wanted poster for SLA members. My partner and I had recently watched two movies made about Patty Hearst and I was surprised to see Russell Little in one of those movies expounding on the innocence of the parties involved in the SLA. He was an SLA member who shot and killed School Superintendent Marcus Foster, along with Joseph Romero. They used a hollow point bullet loaded with cyanide. Little served 6 years and now counsels inmates at the jail and in half-way type houses in Oakland. Its the way our country works. But, I can’t help but feel resentment that he is free and making light of the SLA.  From an inside view here is why. Pictures we have of Sergeant Bob Jensen, and Larry Franks, guys I knew, who were attacked during Little and Romero’s escape attempt.

Jensen was beaten with a microphone stand and his eye was put out.

Deputy Larry Franks was stabbed with a pencil, as you can see, still sticking out of his neck. It was aimed to kill and fell short by a quarter of an inch of Franks jugular vein. Romero stabbed him; he had a background in a special forces unit in Viet Nam and was a practiced killer, courtesy of our own military training. The two unarmed deputies were locked in the visiting area with the inmates while they consulted with their attorney.

This was the first vehicle the county Sheriff’s Department bought.

And, in the forties, through the sixties, some deputies served as cowboys, rousting the beef herds from county property to property.  Inmates at one time worked for crews herding cattle, butchering their own hogs, cutting hair in the barber shop, baking breads and rolls, working the shops and gardens as well as manning the Santa Rita Fire Department.  The farm system was one of the best ways to treat inmates. It gave them a sense of worth. But, like society, inmates are more violent and must be locked up without opportunities, fresh air, and hard work. Harsh punishment doesn’t make them better citizens, or our streets safer when they get out. And, once you have a record, jobs are scarce.  The perpetual problem, costly, unsatisfactory.
Its just a glimpse,  a bit of an inside view.
I always enjoy the camaraderie of cops, unique people who have unique lives because of their chosen occupation.

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Since my gypsy lifestyle developed, I have been unable to properly serve as President of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Archive Association, a project that I care deeply about. Bill Rhodes was elected to replace me and what a breath of fresh air. Enthusiasm, a no non-sense, get-the-job-done, attitude. I was amazed at the wonderful changes in the facility he has accomplished in a few short months.

Bill, right with Al Iannarelli, discussing a project with Gary Lindsay and Rich Barlow.

Gary is our Media expert. Ianarelli, the author of three books, is invaluable for organizing career books. Bud Harlow, (not pictured) has undertaken to have our Old Santa Rita Jail Doors sandblasted and refurbished.
Rich was interested in knowing if the Archive contains any copies of  The Rap Sheet, a newsletter published by the Deputy Sheriff’s Association during the 1970’s. We have none that I’m aware of. So, another plea. If anyone knows where copies of The Rap Sheet are hiding, please consider donating them to the Archive.
We had an interesting story surface. A retired deputy with a bunch of interesting old clippings and artifacts from his career stored in his garage had a fire. He immediately realized how endangered those materials were and brought them to the archive. Another danger was cited by my cousin/friend Richard Cardoza.
A neighbor of his who built the Bay Bridge had photos, and memorabilia by the box full that was tossed out by his kids when he died. And pictures his Highway Patrolman neighbor accumulated over a lifetime, huge black and white photos of his early career in Contra Costa County, were likewise tossed. DON’T DO IT. Find a museum and donate before tossing. They are history.
Over the past years, when I attended archive meetings, I  stayed overnight with my cousin, Terri Cardoza from Danville.

She and Richard kindly provided me Bed and Breakfast and made my service to the archive possible. She feeds me and the neighbors rabbit, and a half dozen feral cats she has had fixed, plus four of her own. I am grateful for HER service, and donations to the Archive.

I will still attend meetings when I’m in town, and I intend to continue to do interviews for the archive.

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