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Police And Fire Departments

Old Piedmont Police patch_edited.png
Piedmont Police logo new_edited.png


The Tribune article below says John P. Rose was the first marshal of Piedmont, however, another article mentions another marshal, PJ Keller of Piedmont in the 1890s who helped create the "Piedmont Rangers" in 1888. Keller ran for Sherif in 1898 according to the Oakland Tribune on Wednesday, Oct. 19 in 1898. And before Burton Becker as the article mentions below, Frank Staiger became marshal after a shakeup that dismissed John Rose in 1914.

Piedmont Rangers:

Oakland Tribune - Fri - Jun. 29, 1888:

Owing to the inability of invited speakers to attend, P. J. Keller was called upon and delivered a speech which stirred the hearts and fired the enthusiasm of all present... A proposition was advanced and will probably be consummated, to organize a mounted battalion to be called the "Piedmont Rangers.”

According to Oakland Tribune - Sun - Feb. 16,  1969 Piedmont and Piedmont Avenue in the late 1880s was still considered the Piedmont area. While Patrick Jeremiah Keller lived off of Piedmont Ave, he was called "The Mayor of Piedmont" and lead the "Piedmont Rangers".

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The San Francisco Call - Sun - Jun. 21, 1896

"Keller is the "Mayor of Piedmont" and is one of the most notable men in his district... he has been the roadmaster and he has built all the roads in Piedmont."

Oakland Tribune - Mon - Jan. 14, 1895

Marshal 1st - Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Sep_7__1952_.jpeg
Marshal 1st - Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Sep_7__1952_.jpeg
Marshal 1st - Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Sep_7__1952_.jpeg
Marshal 1st - Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Sep_7__1952_.jpeg

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Sep. 7, 1952

"Mr Rose belonged to the UPEC Lodge No. 13 and to the Piedmont Parlor of Native Sons of the Golden West."

According to Wikipedia

The Native Sons began as an organization "embracing only the sons of those sturdy pioneers who arrived on this coast prior to the admission of California as a state." In the 1920s, the Native Sons took two very different stances; one on immigration and one on rights for Native Americans. In 1920, then-Grand President William P. Canbu of the Native Sons wrote that “California was given by God to white people, and with God’s strength we want to keep it as He gave it to us.” The Native Sons openly opposed Chinese, Mexican, and Japanese immigration and waged an unsuccessful legal battle for Japanese-Americans to be disenfranchised during World War II. However, by contrast, the Native Sons actively fought for California Native American rights. "The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco was looking into the matter of Indian rights under the 18 treaties as early as 1909. This resulted in a special section on Indian Affairs for the purpose of making a complete study of the rights, wrongs, and present condition of California Indians in 1924.


Oakland Tribune - Wed - Oct. 19, 1898

"When Marshal Rose captures a criminal, or a dog without a visible means of support, he has to keep the criminal in his own home and confine the dog in his back yard."


Oakland Tribune - Sun - Apr. 26, 1914

WF Banks was under Marshal Frank Staiger after John Rose was dismissed.

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Town talk - Publication date 1920

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Oakland Tribune - Tue - Oct. 15, 1918

Letter from Oakland Mayor, John L Davie, above to Fred Heere when he became Chief. Piedmont Police Chief Burton Becker was elected Sheriff of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office in Alameda County in 1926. In 1930, after years of investigation by Alameda County District Attorney Earl Warren, he was tried and convicted on corruption charges, removed from office and sent to San Quentin Prison.

SF Chronicle: "A dismembered body, a love child and the Klan: The wildest SF cold case you've never heard of" in 1924.

Article from the PPD archives, most likely a Piedmont paper, 1926:


Friends and Associates Present Him Diamond Studded Gold Badge of Office

The council rooms in Piedmont's city hall have seldom if ever witnessed a more stirring scene than upon the occasion of the presentation to Sheriff-elect Burton F. Becker of a diamond studded gold badge of office by his friends and former associates on Thursday of
last week. The badge symbolizes the esteem and friendship which Becker won for himself during the twelve years he served as Chief of Police of Piedmont.

The badge itself is the gift of Becker's former associates in the Piedmont city hall, while the diamonds that decorate it are the gifts of friends in Piedmont and all Alameda County. It is valued at $1500. In shape it is in the form of a shield done in red, green and yellow gold. In the center of the emblem is the raised seal of Alameda County, surrounded by a wreath and surmounted by a eagle having a diamond eye. In a star at the base of the medal is set a one-karat diamond.

The presentation was made by Mayor Ellsworth, following a eulogy of the retiring Chief of Piedmont's police. Becker was so overcome by surprise and emotion that he was unable to conclude his speech of appreciation at the moment, but before the meeting was adjourned he regained his self possession and voiced both his appreciation of the gift and the splendid cooperation he had received during the years he has served Piedmont in an official position.

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paper mentions kkk burton - Ukiah_Republican_Press_Wed__Mar_19__1930_.jpeg

Ukiah Republican Press - Wed - Mar. 19, 1930:


OVER IN OAKLAND last week Sheriff Burton F. Becker went into court and acknowledged he was guilty of a crime, thus automatically bringing about his removal from the office be held and, at the same time, placing himself immune from prosecution
on 15 other counts of an information returned against him by the grand jury.

Burton F. Becker is a member of the Ku Klux Klan and was elected by the Klan as a reformer-one who was to “clean up conditions."' Of the situation existing in Oakland and nearby towns The Sausalito News comments thus:

“Candidate B. F. Becker (at the last election) who later admitted in court he was a Ku Kluxer, had the active support of the whispering brigade. He had all the reformers, the prohibitionists and all the other antivicers with him. He beat Frank Barnet (a faithful, honest official who was the incumbent at the last election) ---not because of any superior qualifications he possessed, but because of the whispering campaign carried out against him.

"What did the new sheriff do but get the head federal raiding agent, or whatever his title was, to join him as his chief criminal deputy. Death on vice was his motto -- aside from the fiery cross -- in Alameda county. For a time the "joints" caught merry Hades. Emeryville wasn't what it used to be; the wine bibblers in Livermore didn't dare let grape juice ferment; the old Spanish customs in Pleasanton were banished, and all along down the line fear and trepidation were stricken in the souls of evil-doers. 

"The poor unfortunate, or dumb, bootlegger who didn't contribute had to suffer in court. In the meantime the Ku Klux sheriff in the ex-federal Prohl, who was his headman as well as the other hands who were wise to the ropes, gathered theirs---n0t only from booze. gambling. Chinese lotteries, but from paving awards as well, according to the East Bay expose.


"what a great shock it must be to the bigots who. got behind a candidate for Sheriff to have him admit some 16, more or less, irregularities in compromising sins of evildoers. Perhaps they are that narrow-minded and bigoted they can see no wrong in what their champion had done. Because he had arrested several to every one he hobnobbed with was probably a "sign of progress" in the great East Bay Whispering Crusade,"

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Chief Justice: A Biography of Earl Warren

To read more about Burton Becker

go to the Sidney Dearing website

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Piedmont Civic Live page:

The Piedmont Police Department is located in the Veterans Memorial Building at the corner of Vista and Highland Avenues. The Department employs 20 sworn personnel (the police chief, two captains, four sergeants and thirteen patrol officers) and eight non-sworn personnel (five dispatchers, two animal control officers and one administrative assistant). The force is supplemented by Reserve Officers and citizen volunteers.

Piedmont PPO:

The Piedmont Police Officers Association was founded in 1977 by Officers Jim Faulkner, John Moilan and Fred Gouveia. The goal of the Piedmont Police Officers Association[sic] is to partner with the community and provide quality police service through community interaction, emphasizing the highest degree of cooperation, professionalism and ethical behavior, and to create an atmosphere of safety and security. Our community policing approach helps neighborhoods keep safe by working with our police officers daily. The Piedmont Police Officers Association is active in our community and many of our members volunteer in the city of Piedmont and the communities where they live.

Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Volume 25 Issue 1 May-June Article 17 Summer 1934 Police Science Notes:


Two-Way Police Radio.-According to a communication from Professor August Vollmer to the Journal, the Police Department of Piedmont, California, has recently installed a two-way radio telephone equipment, which provides an economical method of communication, within limited areas (1) between two fixed points, (2) between fixed points and mobile units such as automobiles, boats or airplanes, and (3) between the mobile units themselves. Professor Vollmer expressed the opinion that although some of the difficulties associated with this system of communication will have to be overcome, it is now sufficiently serviceable for all practical purposes and will eventually merit universal application. The particular equipment used by the Piedmont Police department is a product of Universal Communications, Inc. In a bulletin issued by this corporation it is stated that the system operates on frequencies between thirty and fifty thousand kilocycles, thereby utilizing thousands of new wave channels for communication, in contrast to the present limited wave bands which are very much overcrowded. Among the other noteworthy features of this equipment are listed the following: "Sets Stay in Tune Without Shifting Frequency"; "Experienced Operators Not Required"; "Will Carry Through Buildings, Hills or Other Objects"; "Compact"; etc. Students of Police Science.

Oakland Tribune - Mon - Dec. 9, 1935

QST 1936-11: Vol 20 Iss 11:

Wr. C. B. McMurphy in charge of the Radio development work of the Piedmont Police Department, Piedmont, California, who has pioneered and developed one of the finest police two-way communication systems in America today, holding the EIMAC 50T, finally retired after giving such an excellent account of itself.

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Unknown date or the Piedmont Police Department - from the PPD archives.


Piedmont Fire Department

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Seagrave Combination Hose Wagon, Chemica

Possibly the first Piedmont Fire Department - the window is different and the truck garage as well, however you can see the detailing on the City Hall entrance to the right matches up.

Fire Department:

From the Piedmont Fire Department website:

The Piedmont Fire Department has been serving the City of Piedmont since 1907, just two years after the official incorporation of the city. Initially a volunteer organization, the ability of the residents of Piedmont to have a fire department was a critical factor in becoming a city. Incorporation was spurred on by a fire at the Piedmont Hotel in 1892. Horse-drawn fire engines from Oakland took over two hours to arrive on scene. Needless to say, the hotel was a total loss.  

The fire house was built (in 1910) into the same structure as city hall and is in the same location to this day, albeit with a few modifications. The single bay is now double, and the hose tower has been removed, but the history is undeniable. The fire house still has its original brass pole to slide down from the firefighters dorm to the apparatus bay, a kitchen table fit for eight full-grown adults from the 1920s and a host of memorabilia from across the century.

Piedmont has grown from the original seven families that lived in the area during the 1850s to a population of 10,667 covering 1.7 square miles and 3,924 houses completely surrounded by the City of Oakland. The city is predominantly residential with no freeways or industrial areas but is quite densely populated as it is surrounded by an urban landscape.

The Piedmont Fire Department was fully mechanized from its inception, never relying on horse drawn fire engines. Piedmont Fire’s ambulance is also the longest continually operating Fire Department ambulance in California. Emergency medical response is still highly valued and central to the role that the PFD serves in the community.

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The Piedmont Fire Department currently staffs seven line fire fighters per day aboard one engine, one truck and an ambulance. The average call volume is just over 1000 calls per year and track along national averages in terms of types of calls. Piedmont Fire is an active participant in the California Master Mutual Aid program and regularly deploys resources across the state during fire season and other large emergencies. Today the Piedmont Fire Department carries on the traditions of the past as it remains ever ready to serve its citizens amidst modern life. Cutting edge advanced life support via its historic ambulance, and a commitment to high technology equipment in the shadow of an early adopter of the modern fire engine, the Piedmont Fire Department is a professional and highly skilled group of public servants.

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Fire Department.jpg

Oakland Tribune - Thu - Feb. 10, 1910

Picture of a Piedmont Fire car from the PFD website

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hugh craig angry and fire engine - The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Sat__Oct_1__1910_.jpeg

The San Francisco Examiner -

Sat - Oct. 1, 1910


Oakland Tribune - Tue - May 1, 1917

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Oakland Tribune - Wed - Jan. 3, 1952

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In a photo from the 1960s, Piedmont’s Fire Chief is shown with the fire alarm box equipment. Ticker tape machines are shown in the background.

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