THE FORCE: Police Chief
John Stanton and City Councilman Charlie Logan
stand beside Stantonís personal car, which served as Tustinís police
for years on the one-man force.
Quiet little Tustin was a place where
everyone felt safe and no one locked their doors. But after it incorporated
as a city on Sept. 15, 1927, the newly elected city council felt that as a
city, Tustin should have a police force.
In January 1928 they hired John L.
Stanton, a Huntington Beach policeman, to form a police department. Starting
with the title street superintendent, Stanton became chief of police after
two months, working for $45 a month.
The chief of police had a title, but
little else. There was no police department building and no police car. The
1910 Craftsman-style house which Stanton and his wife, Kathryn, moved into
at 515 W. Third St. served as the police station with their personal
telephone doubling as the police department communication system . Stantonís
personal car was the official police vehicle while he was on duty.
Changes came as Stanton continued to
be Tustinís one man police department for the next 14 years. The city
council authorized purchase of a police car. Eventually space for a police
department and city hall was rented on Main Street. Stanton worked alone
until the city approved hiring a night patrolman in 1942.
To be sure that Stanton was kept
busy, he was appointed to serve as inspector of buildings, plumbing and
electrical installation in addition to being chief of police. There is no
record of his salary at that time, but because the new night patrolman was
hired at $125 a month, it seems likely that his salary had been increased.
Stanton continued to do double duty
until George Broomell took over as city building inspector. He then became
business license collector as well a chief of police. In 1948 the city hired
a third officer on a six-month trial basis and later made him permanent.
While on duty, Big John, as he became
known because of his 6-5 frame, usually parked on Main by the side entrance
to the drug store at the intersection of D (El Camino Real) and Main, ready
to chase any motorist speeding or failing to stop at the intersection. D
Street was part of California State Highway 101 at that time, connecting
with Laguna Road and serving as the main route south with heavy traffic,
especially on weekends.
Big John became a legend during the
war years. Marines from El Toro delighted in trying to outsmart him. A
favorite tale, true or not, tells how a couple of guys distracted him while
several others secured the rear bumper of his squad car to a tree, then
laughed uproariously when he tried to take off after a third prankster
racing through town at high speed.
While Marines might tease him, local
teenagers had a healthy respect for his law and order.
One encounter with him was enough. Seldom did he have to get on their case a
Stanton retired as Tustin began to grow after World War II.
He probably never dreamed that the
tiny police department which he inaugurated would grow to nearly 100 sworn
police officers and 55 civilian support personnel, or that the city of
Tustin would cover approximately 12.3 square miles with a population of over