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History of the Monrovia Police Department

1903: Our Founding 

The beginnings of the Monrovia Police Department as an organization came with the appointment of its first Special Police Officer by Monrovia's City Board of Trustees in 1903. From this first appointment would follow many others, and through the years, the organization would evolve into the 120 member department we know today.

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In the early years, the police department was located in the old Granite Bank Building at the corner of Palm and Myrtle Avenues. A granite cornerstone from the original building is still located at the northeast corner of Library Park. It was not until 1925, that a new station house was built specifically to house the police department, which numbered about nine officers at the time.

The earliest indication of a jail in Monrovia is found in an invoice and other related papers, dated March 4, 1904, from E.T. Barnum Iron Works, Detroit. These papers reveal the shipment of two "iron lattice jail cells with bunks and soil buckets and necessary hardware." The total cost of these cells, including shipping and freight, was less than $300.

In the early 1900s, the department would see some changes that would herald the beginnings of increased professionalism and modernization. One example of this new professionalism would be the wearing of a distinctive uniform by all Monrovia police officers, which was directed by the Monrovia Board of Trustees in 1912. Another sign that times were changing was the hiring of the department's first woman police officer, Zella L. Vining, on May 27, 1918.

history_photo_2_mpd_historical_058In the history of the police department, records reveal that two of their officers were killed on duty; both deaths were the result of traffic accidents. The first accident took the life of Officer Massie "Tiny" Morris, when his police vehicle was struck by a Santa Fe Train as it crossed the tracks at Myrtle Avenue on October 5, 1928.

The second death of a Monrovia police officer occurred on December 16, 1938. In this incident, Officer Scott Vernon Smith, a motorcycle officer, was pursuing a traffic violator when several children ran out into the street. Officer Smith swerved to avoid the children and crashed in front of the old Lyric Theater on Foothill Boulevard.

One of the oldest members of the department was Sergeant R.C. "Clint" Seem. The personnel records of the time are quite brief, but reveal that Sergeant Seem entered police service at age 42 on January 2, 1907. The final entry on the record indicates he left the department on December 1, 1943, making Sergeant Seem 78 years old at the time.

1920s 

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The mid-1920s was an important transitional period for the police department. It was on April 7, 1925, that the first police station was opened on East Lime Avenue. Newspaper accounts headlined the event and described the new police station as the finest and most conveniently arranged police station in Southern California. The new station boasted a men's jail and separate women's jail, a very significant sign of progress for the times. Prior to this date, all women prisoners were held in custody at the home of the City Matron, Mrs. J.B. Woodland, until taken downtown to Los Angeles County Jail.

During this time in the department's history, news accounts from the Monrovia Daily News frequently made reference to "the" police car. This vehicle was acquired upon the demise of the previous patrol vehicle - a bicycle.

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1926: Chief Frank L. Scott 

The mid-1920s also brought to the department a more paramilitary type organization. The department at the time was led by Monrovia's first appointed Chief of Police, Frank L. Scott, who was appointed to the post on May 3, 1926. Scott came to the department as a relief patrolman on July 4, 1913, and rose through the ranks until his appointment as Chief.

Chief Scott would lead the department through the Great Depression and war years of the 1930s and 1940s. During this period, the department continued to grow in personnel and equipment. These were truly formative years for the department. Scott's legacy would be an organizational structure that would survive the decades, essentially intact.

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Pioneer Peace Officer: Constable James Quiggle 

A review of the department's history would not be complete without mention of a pioneer Monrovia peace officer who served with distinction during the early years of the department. Constable James Quiggle served 29 years, beginning in 1906, and serving until his retirement in 1935. Appointed Deputy Constable in 1906, Quiggle also served as Night Watchman for the Monrovia merchants. In 1910, he was appointed Constable for the Monrovia Township. He was elected City Marshal in 1914 and served until July 1, 1915, when he returned to his job as County Constable. In August 1925, the Monrovia Board of Trustees drafted Quiggle to serve as Acting Chief of Police until a successor could be appointed. He continued as Marshal until May 1926, when the trustees named Frank L. Scott as the first Chief of Police for Monrovia. Constable James Quiggle passed away on May 8, 1955.

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1949: Chief Grant Peterson 

Grant Peterson, the second to attain the title of chief of police, was appointed on May 16, 1949. Prior to working at Monrovia, Peterson worked for the City of Salinas Police Department, Monterey County Sheriff's Department and the State Division of Narcotics. Chief Peterson guided the department during the majority of the 1950s. During this period, the structure and the mission of the department became increasingly clearer. The organizational structure of the department was broken down into three sections: patrol, services and detectives.

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During this time, other advances would take place in the department. One such change was a new form of monthly crime reporting, which enabled them to evaluate different types of crime and to track the recovery and loss of property. In 1954, the department would form its Mounted Posse, a working auxiliary of horseback riding officers who aided the department in mountain rescue, fires and other emergencies.

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Photographer Milton Bell 

Another important person in the history of the Monrovia Police Department is veteran newspaper photographer, Milton Bell. Although not a member of the police department, he developed a friendship with our organization that lasted many years.

During the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Milton worked for the local newspaper and also did some freelance work. He often could be found at most accident and crime scenes in Monrovia and throughout the San Gabriel Valley. In those days, the police department had limited photographic equipment, although photographs were required on all traffic collisions. Milton would often provide the department with a copy of his photographs to include with the police report.

Another reason why Milton was so beloved by patrol officers was his concern for the officers themselves. During those days, police officers were required to wear their uniform hat at all times when out of their police car. Milton knew that if he took a picture of an officer without their hat on, they would most assuredly get in trouble with their supervisor when the picture was viewed either in the newspaper or as part of an accident report. Milton always made sure that before he took a picture with a Monrovia police officer, the officer had his hat on. In fact, the story goes that one patrol officer actually gave Milton a police hat to take with him so he always had one handy to put on an officer's head before he took a picture.

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1958: Chief Ray Blair 

Chief Ray Blair assumed command of the department in 1958. He was Monrovia's first chief to have graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) National Academy, an executive leadership development school. Chief Blair learned many new techniques at the FBI Academy and brought back some of what he learned to Monrovia. One area of change came with the implementation of a new records keeping system that facilitated the use of library type filing cards. This new system followed the FBI model for agencies the size of Monrovia and allowed records personnel to quickly find needed information.

Blair also implemented the FBI's pin map crime analysis technique. This technique, coupled with proactive crime prevention programs, helped to identify and prosecute crime suspects. Pin maps were also used to identify areas in the community where traffic accidents were taking place and helped to focus traffic enforcement efforts to reduce collisions.

history_photo_11_2x_photo_a26The crime prevention officer was created during this time. The first person to fill this position was Officer Patrick Hardy. Hardy worked closely with residents to provide useful information that would help them to avoid becoming the victims of crime. Property identification programs were instituted that helped community members engrave their personal property to reduce the likelihood of theft and to help return property to owners if a theft occurred.

The School Resource Officer (SRO) was another position created during Chief Blair's time. Gary Schram was the first officer assigned to this position. He worked closely with school officials and was located at the Monrovia High School. The SRO was a plainclothes assignment that was designed to bring a closer working relationship between the department, the school district and the youth of the community. Part of the duties of the SRO was to assist the high school with disciplinary problems and truancy. The SRO taught police related topics in a variety of the classes at the high school. The SRO also spent time on the elementary school campus with the younger students.

history_photo_12_photo36Another of Chief Blair's major contributions to the department was the planning and building of a new police facility to replace the one built in 1925. The new police facility was erected on the site of the original police building and is used to house the police department today. The facility is located at 140 E. Lime Avenue.

The 1950s and early 60s saw an increase in illegal street drag racing in San Gabriel Valley cities and beyond. Many accidents resulted from these events, ending in serious injury and death. In response to this growing problem, many police agencies created police sponsored car clubs that encouraged teenagers to respect traffic laws and to save drag racing for authorized race tracks.

history_photo_14_photo70Monrovia's police sponsored car club was started by Lieutenant Stanley Alexander in 1963 and was called the Sirchers. The car club capitalized on their members' interest in cars and encouraged participation in a variety of events that highlighted the need for driver safety. The Sirchers, like many other police sponsored car clubs of the time, participated in the Annual Youth Safety Run sponsored by the Police Advisory Council for Car Clubs. This three day event featured a car rally that left from a Southern California city each year and traveled to Yosemite National Park. Car dealers also participated by donating the use of new cars to be used by the clubs for the event. Police agencies from throughout the area participated each year. Participants received awards for the best gas mileage and safety record in each category of vehicle.

history_photo_15_photo133During this same period of time, Chief Blair added the first police car dedicated to traffic enforcement and collision investigation. The car was intended to enhance the existing traffic bureau, made up exclusively of police motorcycles. The car was able to be utilized during inclement weather, unlike the motorcycles. The traffic car was referred to as the "White Ghost."

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Julian Fisher: First African American Police Officer 

Another important figure in the history of the police department is Julian Fisher,  Monrovia's first African American police officer. Julian grew up in Monrovia, and as a young boy he often worked with his father, who was a blacksmith for Lucky Baldwin. Julian was educated in the Monrovia schools and was the first African American male to graduate from Monrovia High School. He also played as a semi-professional baseball player for the Monrovia Merchants. Julian was a respected member of the police department and the community. He served in the department for many years and retired in the early seventies as a police sergeant. Julian passed away in December of 1976. Julian Fisher Park, located at Almond and California Avenues, is named in his honor.

Another police officer who was well known in the community was Officer Barney Glenn. Barney served the department for many years, but is even better known for his love of baseball and his involvement as the team manager for the Monrovia Merchant's semi-professional baseball team. Barney served in that capacity from 1940 to 1963. Barney could be seen on Sundays carefully preparing the baseball field in Recreation Park for games that would be played that day. The semi-professional league Barney participated in provided opportunities for adult and high school age baseball players. Later, the field would be used by Monrovia's Youth Baseball League for youth Little League games. The Barney Glenn Field in Recreation Park was dedicated in his name.

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1971: Chief Ray Ellis 

The next in line to lead the Monrovia Police Department was Chief Ray Ellis in 1971. Chief Ellis, as his predecessor before him, came up through the ranks of the department, and was also a graduate of the FBI National Academy. The years during Chief Ellis' administration were marked by progress and rapidly changing techniques and procedures in law enforcement. It was during this period that Neighborhood Watch was first instituted in Monrovia. This program, which still continues today, is a collaborative venture between the department and community members to help keep their neighborhoods safe from crime.

history_photo_18_photo4It was also during this period, the department put into service its mobile command post vehicle. The vehicle was a reconditioned utility van that was fitted with radio equipment, a telephone and other equipment useful to field operations. The command post was a joint venture and was intended to be used by both police and fire during time of disaster. Because of the vehicle's ability to transport several officers at one time, it was often used for transportation to specialized work events.

history_photo_19_photo107Another department venture that was initiated to benefit the youth of the community was the Wyland Way Field Bicycle Racing Track. Kiwanis International helped to fund the project, and volunteers from the police department and the local Kiwanis Club built the track. This was the beginning of the Monrovia Bike Racing Association. The track was a place for youth to race competitively with their motocross style bicycles. Detective Tom Wellinger and Sergeant Mike Delaney supervised the design, development, construction and operation of the track for five years.

In 1972, the department started its first Law Enforcement Explorer Post. This program was part of the vocational exploring program created through Boys Scouts of America. The program was designed to provide teenage youth the opportunity to experience different vocational opportunities through various charter organizations. The post started with approximately thirty high school aged youth who volunteered to work with the department. This program provided the police department with a close connection to youth in the community and allowed the youth to better understand the world of the police officer.

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1979: Chief Bill Tubbs 

In 1979, Bill Tubbs was appointed chief of police. Chief Tubbs was also a graduate of the FBI National Academy and came up through the ranks of the department. Under the guidance of Chief Tubbs, the department explored and adopted a number of new and innovative techniques for policing the community. Tubbs believed that the backbone of the department was the patrol force and emphasized the importance of the patrol officer in keeping the community safe and free from crime.

During his administration, Tubbs organized the department's Task Force, a four-man team of officers designed to focus on gang and street drug trafficking. This team would later be called the Special Enforcement Team.

history_photo_21_photo249In 1982, the police facility, designed twenty years prior, would undergo some major changes. The outdated dispatch office and records section were closed. They were replaced by a new more modern communications center and records area that would serve the growing communications and records storage needs of the department. The resources to upgrade the communications center were raised in large part by a dedicated group of community members, calling themselves Monrovians for a Safer Community.

dept_photo_circa_1985In 1983, another group of dedicated community members raised $23,000 in three months to purchase two police canines and the necessary equipment and training to start the department's first police canine program. Funds for this program were raised by members of the Gem City and Monrovia Kiwanis Clubs, Rotary, Soroptimists, Quota and the Exchange Club.

The two canine teams - a police officer paired with a canine partner - were assigned to patrol operations. Officers Rick Miglia and Pat Burson were the first two officers assigned to this new position. The canine officers drive police cars specially designed for their canine partners. The team implemented specially trained police dogs that could be used to track suspects and search buildings. Later, the capabilities of the canine teams would be enhanced with training that allowed them to search for illicit drugs.

In 1986, the City's centennial year, the police department changed to blue uniforms. At that time, there was a statewide move to standardize the color of municipal police uniforms. Although there was never any legislation requiring it, Monrovia, and most of the state's municipal police agencies, adopted the new uniform color. Prior to this time, the department's officers wore tan uniforms with green Eisenhower style jackets.

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1989: Chief Joseph Santoro 

Joseph Santoro, a captain from the Monterey Park Police Department, was appointed as Monrovia Police Department's sixth chief of police in October 1989. Chief Santoro had a Masters degree in Public Administration from USC, was a graduate of the FBI National Academy and a graduate of the California Law Enforcement Command College. Under his leadership the next 13 years would see countless new programs, many of which focused on the youth of the community. It was Chief Santoro's belief that the department should help the youth of the community to be successful. This ideal was reflected in a variety of programs that promoted youth and helped to identify and make resources available to help those youth who were at risk. It was this same philosophy that brought the department into a close working relationship with the Boys and Girls Club of the Foothills.

During this period, the department saw the creation of Community Activist Policing. Chief Joe Santoro was instrumental in the implementation of this new philosophy of policing, an innovative and collaborative approach to solving community problems. Under his direction, the department worked collaboratively with citizens, business owners and other city departments and agencies in the region to affect tremendous improvements in the quality of life in the community. Programs that came out of this new approach would earn the department several international and national recognitions, including the Webber Seavey Award presented to the Monrovia Police Department by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Bicycle patrol officers hit the streets in Monrovia in 1991. Seen as a stealthy way to approach and apprehend street drug traffickers, the bicycle became an integral part of patrol operations. In addition, officers used police bicycles to work the Old Town area and shopping malls to reduce crime. A side benefit to bicycle patrol is the ability for community members to more easily approach and communicate with police officers working the assignment. Bicycle patrol officers receive special training and equipment to ride the police bikes. The bicycles are equipped with red lights and siren, and carry needed equipment in a storage container on the rear. Early on in the program, Monrovia provided state approved police bicycle training for police agencies throughout the state.

After Monrovia instituted its police bicycle patrol, AeroVironment approached the department with a proposal to test their new electric bicycle in 1994. AeroVironment is a company that specializes in highly efficient systems in the areas of electric vehicles, distributed energy supply, unmanned air vehicles and environmental measurement. The electric-assist bicycle for law enforcement, the AV Patroller, was a great success. It improved response times for bicycle officers and extended their patrol range.

In June 1993, The Police Chaplain Corps was established with the assistance of clergy members from several of the community churches. Police chaplains helped the department forge closer ties to the community by showing a more compassionate side to law enforcement. Chaplains have been particularly helpful in family crisis situations. Over the years, the role of the police chaplain has expanded to include counseling and outreach to members of the community who need temporary food and shelter.

Later in the same year, the department moved light years ahead in its ability to store and analyze crime data with the installation of its first computerized Records Management System. This system provided the means by which data could be more effectively analyzed to solve crime, and identify and prosecute criminals. At the same time, a Computer Aided Dispatch system was also implemented that greatly improved the efficiency of dispatching police calls to officers in the field.

Monrovia's Volunteer Citizen Patrol came on the scene in January 1997. This group of dedicated community members donates their time to provide valuable services to the community. They spend many hours each month providing patrol to areas of the community and other valuable services that help patrol officers remain available to handle calls for service. Citizen Patrol Volunteers also provide crowd control during special events and traffic control during disasters and traffic collisions.

In 1998, the Monrovia Police Department became one of the first law enforcement agencies in California to place Automatic Electronic Defibrillators (AED) in police cars. Officers responding to calls for medical assistance were now able to help heart attack victims by delivering life saving shocks of electricity to overcome irregular and life-threatening heart rhythms. Since its inception, the program has saved many lives.

Mobile computing came to Monrovia in 1999. The leading edge computerized system brought information from local, state and federaltrt_team_2003 databases right to the officer's police car. The new system increased dispatch efficiency and provided officers the tools needed to perform their jobs more effectively. Monrovia was the first law enforcement agency in California to provide real-time photographic imagery in a police vehicle using wireless technology.

trt_team_2003Monrovia's Tactical Response Team (TRT) went operational in June of 2000. The team was created to handle high-risk tactical situations requiring specialized training and equipment. Monrovia, like many other agencies in Los Angeles County, found that the Sheriff's Department was unable to meet the growing requests being made by municipal law enforcement agencies. Monrovia's tactical officers had to meet high standards and compete for positions on the team. Members of the fourteen-person team received ongoing training each month and were required to qualify in a variety of areas to remain on the team.

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2002: Chief Roger Johnson 

In 2002, Monrovia once again selected a chief of police from among its own. Roger Johnson, a 25-year veteran of the department, was appointed Monrovia's seventh chief of police. Hired in 1978 at the age of 18 as a police cadet, he worked his way through the ranks and ultimately became chief of police. Johnson was a graduate of the California Law Enforcement Command College, the FBI National Academy and had a Masters degree from California State University, Los Angeles. The focus of the department under his leadership was to strengthen ties between the department and the community, and to continue to emphasize a collaborative approach to community problem solving.

Chief Johnson oversaw the department's centennial celebration in 2003. As part of the centennial celebration, Chief Johnson created a police department display at the Monrovia Historical Museum. The police exhibit is contained in its own room at the Museum. It consists of hundreds of pictures of police employees through the history of Monrovia Police Department and interactive displays for young visitors. There is a police motorcycle and bicycle used by the department with working emergency lighting and a station where kids can try on the various police uniforms. There are manikins with uniforms worn by members of the department over the 100 year history. The police exhibit is one of the highlights of the Museum and well worth going to see. The Museum is located at Recreation Park in the 800 block of East Lemon.

fset2013_4703Chief Johnson was instrumental in the creation of a regional tactical team called the Foothills Special Enforcement Team. It had become increasing difficult for police departments to maintain individual tactical teams on their own. Under the leadership of Chief Johnson, the Monrovia Police Department formed a regional team by pooling resources with four other San Gabriel Valley police departments. This regional effort was a success and produced a highly trained and skilled regional tactical unit formed to respond to critical incidents beyond the scope and training of patrol officers.

The City of Monrovia experienced an upsurge in gang violence in 2007. Chief Johnson utilized the department's collaborative relationship with surrounding police agencies in the San Gabriel Valley, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department and the California Highway Patrol to create a gang task force to combat the gang violence. The overwhelming police presence in the city stopped the activity and was significantly felt by gang members. Many gang members were arrested and convicted for their crimes by the task force, resulting in a 64 percent reduction in gang crime over the next four years. This creative response and collaborative effort was instrumental in helping to quell the violence.

In order to ensure police had the tools they needed to continue to reduce gang activity in the area, Chief Johnson oversaw the creation and implementation of Monrovia's civil gang injunction. The gang injunction puts strict limitations on gang members who have been identified and served with the injunction. Gang members can be arrested if found in violation of the court order.

Several new intervention and prevention programs were introduced under Chief Johnson, the Formative Years Project, Chaplains for At-Risk Youth (CARY) and the Monrovia Anti-Gang Intervention Committee (MAGIC). It became obvious that there was a need to interact with the youth of the community. The police department needed to get more involved with young people and their parents before they made the poor choices that led them down the road to gang involvement, drug abuse or criminal activity. The police department shifted its focus to families with children who were in their "formative years," kids in the first, second and third grade. The police department created a unique parenting course providing instruction to both the children and the parents in areas of bullying, media influence, internet safety, child personal safety, and drug and gang awareness. The Formative Years Project provided the vehicle to reach these children and their families to provide life skills to help them make positive choices.

Not all families were willing to make the effort to come to the police station for instruction. Officers in the field frequently encounter youth who are not yet involved in a gang, but are associating with a criminal element and are at risk of starting down a path toward criminal activity. The police department recognized that sending officers to knock on doors might be met with suspicion and mistrust. The Chaplains for At Risk Youth (CARY) program was introduced to fill this need. Where there might have been reluctance to allow a police officer into a home, the chaplains are openly welcomed. The chaplains focus on providing support and counseling to both the parents and the youth experiencing problems at school or showing an inclination to seek out gang acceptance or any other form of disruptive behavior.

Working collaboratively with the school district, the police department formed the Monrovia Anti-Gang Intervention Committee (MAGIC). MAGIC consists of school counselors, police chaplains, and police gang officers. This group identifies kids who are exhibiting at-risk behavior, meets with their families and directs them to resources available within the community to make positive life changes.

The Monrovia Police Department received the CISCO Community Policing Finalist Award in 2010 for the Formative Years Project and the MAGIC and CARY Programs. This is an International Award presented at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference.

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Jane Millet: 50 Years of Service  

One of the longest-serving members of the Monrovia Police Department was Jane Millet. Jane began her career at the Monrovia Police Department as a clerk matron in 1957. She served in the Records Bureau with distinction for 50 years, until her retirement in 2007. Every employee of the police department during those 50 years can remember Jane's smiling face greeting anyone who came into the police department at the front counter. Jane worked for six Chiefs of Police during her career: Chiefs Peterson, Blair, Ellis, Tubbs, Santoro, and Johnson. She has actively kept in contact with many of the police department employees who have retired from the department and encourages the retirees to attend department events, such as the centennial celebration in 2003 and employee retirement celebrations.

2011: Chief James Hunt

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In 2011, Monrovia selected Chief Jim Hunt as its eighth Chief of Police. Chief Hunt was a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy and the California Law Enforcement Command College. He was a 20-year veteran of the Monrovia Police Department and had a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of La Verne.  

During his six years as chief of police , Chief Hunt moved the department forward in the area of technology and social media, launching the police department's website, Twitter presence for police notifications, and making police services available online. These platforms were created to increase the police department's ability to communicate and share information with the community it serves.

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2017: Chief Alan Sanvictores 

Monrovia Police Department's current chief, Alan Sanvictores, was selected in 2017 to serve as the ninth chief of police for the City of Monrovia. Chief Sanvictores is a graduate of the California Law Enforcement Command College and the Executive Leadership Institute at the Drucker's School of Management at the Claremont Colleges. He is a 22-year veteran of the Monrovia Police Department and has a Masters Degree in National Security Studies from Cal State San Bernardino.

Under the command of Chief Sanvictores, the direction of the department will continue its tradition of outstanding community activist policing and excellent customer service. 

2017: Monrovia Police Department 

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"Monrovia's past history has been marked by challenges and innovations, but through it all, the emphasis has been on service. We are proud of the many members of this department who have served this community and the tremendous legacy they have left for those of us charged with carrying on our mission. The Monrovia Police Department is appreciative of the many community members who have been willing to support and stand with the police department to ensure the safety of our community. "