It was the afternoon of Jan. 23, 1908, when Yuba City was formally incorporated. The first action by the new Town Council was to appoint a Town Marshal. William H. Chism, an individual who had protected the town before incorporation and also worked with the United States Marshal in Sacramento, was chosen for the task. Chism, as did all town officials, stood for a ratification election in April of that year; wherein, he won his position by a landslide vote.
The era of Marshal Chism was influenced by the continuing gold rush in the foothills and mountains in neighboring Yuba County. Stage coach robberies and posses forming to apprehend those responsible were all part of the marshal’s life. Patrolling the new Town of Yuba City with his deputies, walking on the wooden-planked sidewalks in business areas such as Second and Bridge Streets, and helping the citizens in the outlaying areas of the town—getting to their locations on horseback—made them a frequent and trusted fixture in the area.
Much has changed in the last century. The Town of Yuba City, then with a population of a few hundred, is now the City of Yuba City, with a population of 65,000. A marshal and a few deputies have been replaced by a Department classed as one of the most technologically advanced police agencies for its size in the United States, with a compliment of over 100 employees and a yearly budget of $14 million. One area that remains the same is the partnership the Department values with the citizens we serve. We understand our obligations to the ethics of the police service and the public trust you place in us. These are paramount for us to succeed as a team—the community and department joined for a common purpose of public safety.
If you ever have the chance to walk through the Department in the evening, stop by the pictures of the former chiefs and marshals. Witness a sense of our progression over the last century. Who knows, when you pass by the picture of Marshal Chism, you might just hear the sound of a spur on a wooden-planked sidewalk. You wouldn't be the first.
RICHARD J. DOSCHER
Chief of Police (Ret)