On January 17, 1953, the City of Buena Park incorporated, followed by the City's Public Safety Department being established in April 1953. The City was initially three square miles, with a population of 10,221. The Public Safety Department was a combination of police and fire services, under the leadership of Chief Carl Lollin, and four officers cross-trained in both police and fire fighting procedures. The Department was located on Ninth Street, just west of Highway 39, known today as "Beach Boulevard." The Department consisted of a fire station in the front, with two small rooms attached for police services to the rear. The Public Safety Department had only one police vehicle and three fire vehicles.
The first police officers never attended a police academy; they were chosen and hired based on their high morals and strong work ethic. They were hired on June 1, 1953, received less than a week’s training, and began patrolling on June 8, 1953. Today, police officers are required to attend four months of full-time training at a police academy, and months of hands-on training with the Department before they begin patrol on their own. The first police officers wore tan-colored uniforms, as did most officers from surrounding agencies; however, over time, and to establish countywide uniformity, all Orange County police agencies now dress their officers in dark blue uniforms.
While police officers today are dispatched to calls for service via police radios and in-car computers, the first police officers did not have it so easy. Back in the early days of Buena Park policing, officers had to pay attention to a light on top of the City’s water tower, which was located on Ninth Street. When the light atop the water tower was turned on, officers patrolling the City knew they had to find a police call box or a telephone to contact the Dispatch Center to get information on the pending call for service.
The City slowly began to grow, serving a population of 17,545 in the mid-1950’s, which led to more police officers and eventually adding civilian employees. As the City’s population boomed, police and fire were split into their own separate departments, and the Buena Park Police Department was established in December 1956. In 1957, Beach Boulevard became City Hall’s home, and in January 1958, the Police Department moved next door to City Hall. The new facility grew to eight rooms, which included a temporary “holding cell." Although our building has changed remarkably over the years, our “home” address remains the same today.
Currently, over 80 police officers patrol a City of almost 82,000 residents from a state-of-the-art facility. While technology has significantly changed the way police work is done today, the goals and values have remained consistent since our inception: to provide quality service to our City’s residents and visitors, and to protect life and property.
Buena Park is currently celebrating 60 years of service to our residents and visitors and the Police Department looks forward to providing quality service for decades to come.
Buena Park Police Department’s Police Chief Time Line:
Carl Lollin 1953 – 1958
Wilford Sparks 1958 – 1960
Ralph Selby 1960 – 1967
Dudley Gourley 1967 – 1975
Robert Reber 1975 – 1989
Richard Tefank 1989 – 2001
Gary Hicken 2001 – 2004
Thomas Monson 2004 – 2010
Corey Sianez 2010 – Today