San Bernardino dedicates 9 streets to city's original police officers

The nine officers are being honored more than 117 years later

By Brian Whitehead
San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — One man went on to serve three terms as San Bernardino police chief.

Another helped establish a police department elsewhere.

A third became the mayor of San Bernardino, while a fourth still holds the record for longest tenure with the department.

Nine officers launched the local police force on May 15, 1905, and on Thursday, June 23, more than 117 years later, their surnames were revealed as street names within a new residential neighborhood in the northern part of town.

Henderson Drive. Nish Drive. Emerson Drive. Ketring Drive.

Poppett Way and Hurley Way.

O'Rourke Street, Curtis Street and Shay Street.

Dennis Houser, a retired sergeant and chairman of the San Bernardino Police Historical Society and Museum, called the dedication ceremony 10 years in the making.

"The significance of naming these streets after these nine men is to honor their commitment and dedication to law enforcement, and to the city of San Bernardino," Houser said in an email.

"These men played significant roles in the evolution of law enforcement and civil development in not only San Bernardino, but the Southern California area."

Under Police Chief Walter A. Shay, John Bell Ketring, Robert O'Rourke, John A. Henderson, William H. Hurley, Edward Poppett, Benjamin Emerson, Richard Curtis and Robert Nish comprised the first San Bernardino Police Department.

After three terms as top cop, Shay served as county sheriff for nearly two decades.

O'Rourke helped establish Long Beach's police force.

Henderson became mayor, and Poppett, the department's first detective and longest-tenured serviceman at 47 years.

As a department historian, Houser first pitched having the streets of any new residential development named after the nine original officers in 2011.

As luck would have it, Houser recalled recently, plans for a new community with nine streets were under review.

City leaders loved the idea, Houser said.

However, financial and logistical issues tabled the development indefinitely.

Until 18 months ago, when construction finally started.

Upland-based GFR Homes is completing 94 new homes at Meyers Road and Little League Drive in northern San Bernardino, and in addition to naming its streets after the original officers, the builder has erected a wall which displays a plaque naming the nine men, plus a cornerstone depicting a replica of the department's original 1905 badge.

The location is significant, Houser said.

At Meyers and Little League in the Verdemont neighborhood, the new community "is in the extreme northwest corner of the city, in a somewhat secluded, small neighborhood, just like the city of San Bernardino was in 1905," Houser said.

"So, it seems fitting that these streets be named after (the officers)."

(c)2022 the San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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