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World War II Years

Appointment of Charles Dullea, by Mayor Rossi, as chief in February 1940 seemed unusually farsighted. When World War II broke out in December 1941, Dullea, a former Marine, ran the department with military efficiency during one of its most difficult periods.

More than half of the city's regular police officers went into the service with the outbreak of the war. They were followed by the married officers and, finally, the fathers of young families.

The city was forced to make do with a reduced force to protect the population enlarged because of wartime activity along the Pacific Coast. Chief Dullea quickly organized an auxiliary police force and used these men, mostly 4-F's and grandfathers, on traffic details, freeing what was left of the regular force for more urgent work.

For nearly one year after Pearl Harbor, San Franciscans feared invasion by the Japanese. The U.S. Mint and other important buildings were either sandbagged or painted black. Air raid drills were frequent, and when the air raid sirens sounded, each policeman hurried to his pre-assigned station and waited for further instructions.

Both regular and auxiliary policemen had been trained in Civilian Defense techniques, and even as late as June 1942, department purchase orders bought gas masks, hard hats, shovels and other items that might be needed during a long seige.

When news from the Pacific Theater improved in 1943, San Francisco's police department returned to a semblance of normalcy. However the wartime spirit of volunteerism remained and a group of officers led by Patrolman Emile Dutil built a modern pistol range.

The department's first post-earthquake range had been constructed in 1913 in the basement of the Hall of Justice. Because space was at a premium as the department grew, the range was moved in 1931 to temporary quarters at the Army's Fort Funston at the Ocean Beach.

The Fort Funston range was to have been abandoned when the Depression-inspired Works Progress Administration completed work on a new range at Lake Merced, but the war interrupted construction, and the project was abandoned by the WPA.

Now, the group of officers led by Officer Dutil threw itself into the completion of the range, and in the three-and-one-half-years, and bought the project in at two-thirds the projected cost.

San Francisco's population exploded during the war years with the steady influx of servicemen and workers in war-related industries. The city's crime rate climbed as well. While violent crime rose slightly, the Robbery Detail reported increases in the number of incidents, and blamed the rise on the increased number of servicemen in San Francisco. The number of arrests for "drunk-and-disorderly" skyrocketed too; the direct result of Army liberty passes and Navy shore leave.

However, the greatest damage done when President Truman announced on nationwide radio that the war had ended. As drunken soldiers and seamen poured out of the city's saloons to celebrate in the street, several fights broke out.

The city's decimated police force attempted to restore order, but a three-day carnival of looting and vandalism followed. When it ended, 11 people were dead and scores more injured.

Chief Dullea public expressed his disgust with what he termed, "the unbridled and unrestrained acts of a lot of undisciplined men in uniform."

The servicemen's lack of discipline brought another headache to the police department. Before the war, Chief Dullea had ordered the department to close every known brothel in the city to help reduce the incidence of venereal disase.

But, as in the days of the Barbary Coast, enforcement proved to be no easy matter. When the war hit, prostitutes moved their activities into the bars to accomodate the servicemen. The result, Chief Dullea reported in the May 1946 issue of "Police and Peace Officer's Journal," was a skyrocketing rate of new infections, up from 148 in December 1941 to 754 in January 1946.

The problem was, said Chief Dullea, not just prostitutes, but "Teenage girls [who] soon came into the picture as well as the class of women who follow servicemen around the country." Chief Dullea sadly concluded that "we cannot substitute hygiene for morality, and any attempt to evade the moral issue, or pass over it lightly, is bound to end in tragedy." Fortunately for the city, the venereal disease outbreak abated somewhat when servicemen began to return home with the end of the war.

The Postwar Police Department.
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