The summer of 1935 was a significant one in the history of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Two breakthroughs that may seem normal or modern to us today happened that summer.

In July 1935, the state legislature passed a bill that would fund the installation of a service of telegraph typewriters (otherwise known as teleprinters) in the offices of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department . While California counties had been offered the opportunity to install the service a few years earlier, Riverside County had not. There had been a few times when a crime warranted quick communication with the state, and the Riverside County Sheriff had been forced to travel to San Bernardino County to use that department’s teletype service.

This new system connected Riverside County to all other counties in the state for emergency alarms. It also facilitated normal crime communications between the state and county. The teleprinter system was a less expensive means of communication than the telephone or sending telegrams through commercial providers and paid for itself through lower communication costs.

The Riverside Daily Press reported that Sheriff Carl Rayburn said tickers were credited with helping to capture many dangerous criminals in the state due to the speed at which information could be transmitted through the ticker system.

The other upgrade that summer was a purely local initiative.

In August, it was reported that the Riverside County Board of Supervisors had allocated funds to hire additional sheriff’s deputies so the sheriff’s department could become a 24-hour agency.

While it was unclear if the department had ever been around the clock before that. At that time, in 1935, there were only day assistants who worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There was a desk sergeant on duty all night, but if anything happened he had to call a home assistant who had already worked a full day. That man should then put on his uniform, drive to the Sheriff’s Department headquarters in downtown Riverside, pick up a department car, and then drive to where the call is coming from.

This created a considerable delay in responding to crimes between 5 p.m. in the evening and 8 a.m. the following morning, when the deputies returned to duty. It also made it very difficult for deputies who could work all day, be dragged out of bed at night to answer a criminal call, and then have to report to work again the next morning.

The cost included $125 per month for the salary of an additional clerk sergeant and $135 per month for the salary of each of the assistants who would work the night shift.

The push for nighttime coverage came from DS Bell, a major producer of oranges. Bell feared that “radicals…foment farm strikes.” Apparently the sheriff’s department at the time was trying to prevent this type of activity.

Whatever the reason, the two changes made in the summer of 1935 to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department were significant advances in creating the modern law enforcement department we have today.

If you have an idea for a future Back in the Day column about a local historical person, place or event, contact Steve Lech and Kim Jarrell Johnson at [email protected]


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