The Early Years (1971-1975)
Expanding our Policing Capabilities (1976-1981)
Response to Traffic Safety & Emergency Management (1981-1982)
Emergency Response Vehicle & New Civic Center (1984-1989)
Chief Charles Brobeck & the Spectrum Station (1991-1998)
Mobile Data Computers & Chief Michael Berkow (1991-2001)
Safest City & Chief David L. Maggard, Jr. (1993-2003)
Enhanced Use of Technology & Equipment (2003-2005)
Great Park Safety Officers & the New Construction Site Security Ordinance (2004-2006)
Youth Liaison Officer & Area Traffic Officer Program (2007) Community Police Academy & Mobile Comm (2007-2008)
Community Police Academy & Mobile Comm (2007-2008)
When the City of Irvine was incorporated on December 28, 1971, the Orange County Sheriff's Department provided the City's police services during its first year. Irvine contracted with the City of Costa Mesa in September of 1972 to provide these services for the next three years.
On July 1, 1975, the Irvine Police Department was formed under the command of Leo E. Peart, the first Chief of Police. Chief Peart commanded 41 sworn police officers and 10 non-sworn employees, instilling within the Department a philosophy of community service based on the "spirit of the law." The new Department responded to 64,019 calls for service in its first year while serving the 39,651 residents of Irvine community from its first station, a portable trailer on Verano Place, adjacent to what is now Campus Plaza.
The 24 vehicles of the Irvine Police Department were distinguished by their distinctive green-and-blue racing stripes over top of white cars. These cars were meant to provide easy visibility to the public while preserving the City's official colors.
In December of 1976, the growing Irvine Police Department moved into a larger facility at the corner of Jamboree Road and McGaw Avenue in the Irvine Business Complex (IBC). During this time, the Department also began to civilize many of its functions.
The 57 sworn members of the Irvine Police Department were now complemented by 21 non-sworn employees, including civilian Public Safety Assistants who helped as Public Safety Dispatchers, Animal Service Officers, Civilian Traffic Investigators and other administrative personnel. Calls for service in 1977 jumped to 93,848.
In 1981, the Irvine Police Department began to expand its policing capabilities, developing a K9 Unit to assist the Patrol Division. Police Officers assigned to this unit—known as "K9 Handlers"—and their dogs were specially trained in search and rescue techniques, detection and identification of drugs and other substances.
Historically, canine breeds that served in the Irvine Police K9 unit included Bouvier des Ardennes, Bloodhounds, German Shepards and Belgian Malinois.
The City of Irvine continued to grow its residential population and the number of businesses in its industrial and commercial areas. Irvine's roadways—in order to accommodate the increase in traffic moving about the City—began expanding to two- to three-lane thoroughfares. In response, the Irvine Police Department developed a Motorcycle Enforcement Unit within the Traffic Bureau. These Motor Officers were responsible for enforcing all traffic laws, ensuring traffic safety and investigating traffic collisions within the City.
In 1982, the Irvine Police Department organized the Irvine Disaster Emergency Communications program, commonly referred to as IDEC. Today, IDEC is an organized team of over 50 trained and dedicated amateur radio operators (Hams). Members routinely volunteer their time and extensive radio communication skills in order to perfect an auxiliary radio communications network. This network is designed to augment (or replace) normal methods of communications used by the citizens of the City in times of emergencies or major disasters. As a subset of the Irvine Police Department, IDEC is a valuable component of the City’s Emergency Preparedness Plan. IDEC is able to immediately establish a lifeline communications network between the Irvine Police Department, Citywide evacuation centers, school sites, public buildings, medical facilities, local parks and any other location where normal means of communication has failed.
In 1984, the Olympic Games came to Irvine, as the swimming portion of the pentathlon was held at the Heritage Park Aquatics Center. Hosting the Olympics necessitated the addition of a new Emergency Response Vehicle to the Police Department fleet.
The vehicle was designed to allow for mobile communications, command staff conference area, and field Emergency Operations Center at major law enforcement scenes. The first Emergency Response Vehicle featured the latest in technology and served the Department before it was replaced by the Mobile Command Center Vehicle in 1995.
The eighties were a period of rapid growth for the City and the Irvine Police Department. In 1989, the Irvine Police Department moved into a new and permanent facility at the new City Hall Civic Center located at the corner of Alton Parkway and Harvard Avenue.
This facility brought badly needed space to the Department, including a new state-of-the-art dispatch center, a custody holding facility, offices for the individual Divisions and Bureaus of the Department, a briefing room, employee locker rooms, and an Emergency Operations Center.
In 1991, Chief Peart retired and Charles S. Brobeck was sworn in as Irvine’s second Chief of Police. During Chief Brobeck’s term the Irvine Police Department continued to expand its public service and criminal enforcement roles in the community. Programs such as DARE were implemented and investigative specialties such as narcotics enforcement, vehicle theft, and economic crimes grew to keep pace with, and prevent, crime in the City.
Irvine Police Department personnel also began to participate in activities such as the annual Baker to Las Vegas 120 mile relay race. Each year the Irvine Police Association sponsors a team of officers and support personnel to participate in the race, which brings teams of law enforcement officers worldwide to Nevada to take part in the event.
In July 1998, the Irvine Spectrum Center (ISC) Substation opened and was staffed by two full-time police officers. The Substation was a 500 square foot office located adjacent to the Edward’s Theater. Its opening coincided with the launch of the second phase of the Irvine Spectrum Center. Because of the increased activity a third full-time police officer and a sergeant were assigned to the ISC in February 1999. In November 1999 the Irvine Company made available an upgrade to the police facility as a new 3,000 square foot Substation was developed. In addition to being the home base for ISC police officers, the Substation serves as a location for non-ISC assigned patrol officers to write reports, conduct investigations, and interview suspects/witnesses.
Irvine continued its rapid growth through the 1990s and the Irvine Police Department remained dedicated to making Irvine the safest city possible. In 1991, the Department installed modern computer terminals (Mobile Data Computers or MDCs) in the patrol vehicles. These computers gave officers immediate access to information normally provided by communicating with dispatchers. The Department also updated its vehicle locators allowing dispatchers to know the location of units in the field via a modern Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system.
The Department continued to improve through the advances in law enforcement technology by equipping officers with .45 caliber semi-automatic handguns replacing their original .357 service revolvers.
After ten years at the helm, Chief Charles Brobeck retired in 2001. By the time of his retirement, the Police Department had grown to 161 sworn officers serving a growing population of over 149,000 residents in a 49 square mile area.
Chief Michael Berkow became Irvine’s third Chief of Police and instituted a comprehensive reorganization of the Department based on the concept of "geographic based policing." The goal was to bring officers into closer contact with the residents and businesses in the areas they patrol to facilitate better communication and partnerships that could lead to improving the quality of life and community safety.
"Working in Partnership with the Community" - the mission statement of the Irvine Police Department - is a commitment to develop relationships between the police officers and professional staff of the Irvine Police Department and the residents and business owners in the community.
Coupled with this belief in working with the community; the Department, its officers and professional staff dedicate themselves to provide quality police services. In 1993, the Department and the City of Irvine was recognized as the "Safest City in America." Since then Irvine has remained in the top ten safest cities in the United States.
Before the transition to geographic policing could be fully implemented Chief Berkow departed the Irvine Police Department to accept a command position with Chief William Bratton at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
With his departure, Deputy Chief David L. Maggard, Jr. was promoted to Chief of Police. Chief Maggard continued Chief Berkow’s vision and implemented geographic policing. Currently, the City is divided into three distinct geographic areas: University, Crossroads, and Portola. Each area is commanded by a Police Commander whose staff of sergeants, officers, and civilians.
Along with the transition to geo-policing the Department continued its contemporary advancements by updating and modernizing its patrol force and policing capabilities utilizing the latest state-of-the-art law enforcement equipment and technology.
The progressive approach included equipping officers with patrol rifles and other less-lethal alternatives such as the Oleoresin Capsicum (OC/pepper) spray, TASER Electronic Control Device (ECD), and the 40mm exact impact projectile device.
The Irvine Police Department also installed video cameras in all patrol vehicles. The digital recording devices activate whenever officers drive with lights and siren or when involved in contacts with citizens.
Video and audio is then wirelessly transferred to storage servers and routinely used for court purposes. In-car camera systems provide many benefits to officers such as increased officer safety and training opportunities. This accountability tool represents an investment in best practices in law enforcement and serves as an important benefit to the community.
In 2004, the City of Irvine assumed full-time law enforcement duties at the Orange County Great Park. Today, a team of Park Safety Officers are assigned to the Orange County Great Park/Great Park Neighborhoods and provide security services for the property on a continual basis.
The Park Safety Officers operate a guard shack and perform roving patrol. The Guard Shack is staffed 18 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week while the Roving Patrol is a 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week operation. Park Safety Officers patrol both the interior and exterior perimeter of the property looking for breaks in the perimeter fencing, unauthorized persons on the property and any unusual condition or safety hazard.
In 2006, the Irvine Police Department proved again to be at the forefront of crime prevention as it developed an ordinance addressing construction site and vacant property security. In part, the ordinance requires operators of construction sites and owners of vacant properties (more than 20 acres) to take certain security measures to reduce property theft such as minimizing access points, installing fences, use of metal storage containers, motion detector lighting, illumination of temporary building trailers and posting 24-hour emergency contact information. Further, the ordinance requires the submittal of a “Construction Site Security Plan” for any residential construction of 25 or more dwelling units or a non-residential site of 50,000 square feet or more of building area.
In 2007, the Irvine Police Department established a “Youth Liaison Officer” position responsible for assisting the Special Investigations Unit identify and work with at-risk teens in the community.
The Youth Liaison Officer works in partnership with the Irvine School Resource Officers, schools and school districts, homeowner associations, apartment managers, property managers and other members of the community to enhance public safety as it relates to Irvine’s at-risk youth.
The Area Traffic Officer Program was formed to address neighborhood traffic complaints, utilizing creative, proactive approaches within each of the Department’s three geographic areas. The program provides a single point person within each patrol area whom residents and businesses can consistently contact regarding traffic-related issues and concerns. Most importantly, residents are able to develop relationships with officers and be assured that an officer is addressing their safety concerns. The City of Irvine realized a 6% reduction in total traffic collisions in 2007. This is a remarkable achievement considering the addition of new residential areas and a number of new roadways within the City of Irvine.
In April 2007, the Irvine Police Department initiated a “Clergy Police Academy” based on the Department’s successful Community Police Academy, which to date has graduated 400 participants. The newly established Clergy Academy has been tailored toward the City’s faith-based leaders. Faith plays an integral role in day-to-day life and for victims of crime or other trauma, faith often assists in the coping and healing process. Program participants hear from officers and department personnel who work major crime scenes to develop a greater understanding of the department and how they may best serve the community.
In 2008, the Irvine Police Department completed work on a state-of-the-art “Mobile Comm Vehicle.” The 45-foot Mobile Comm allows Irvine Police personnel to coordinate resources from the field during an emergency. It integrates voice, data and video communications from six internal workstations, an outside workstation and a conference room. The vehicle also includes two police dispatch consoles – a first for the county. It was chosen as the “Best in the West” Specialty Vehicle by the California Peace Officers’ Association in September 2008. The Mobile Comm vehicle was chosen ahead of 17 other entries from nine western states.
Also launched in 2008, was the Irvine Police Department’s “Return Home Registry” which is an innovative program designed to assist police officers in locating lost or wandering persons missing from their home or caregivers.
This voluntary program is offered at no-cost to participants. Caregivers can voluntarily register persons who may suffer from illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome or debilitating illnesses, and children with special needs. If an officer or other police personnel observe an individual who appears to be lost or confused, they now have the tools on hand to quickly identify the individual and return them home safely.
The Irvine Police Department recently established an Arson Investigator position which is a hybrid of detective and school resource officer. The Arson Investigator works closely with the Orange County Fire Authority and focuses on prevention and intervention strategies.
Recognizing that nearly 80% of arson fires in the City of Irvine are started by juveniles, emphasis is placed on identify “at-risk” youth and supporting them by connecting with appropriate resources.
As the Department continues to move forward in the twenty-first century, the City continues to expand. The annexation of the former El Toro Marine Base, as well as land in the "Northern Sphere" has created a city of almost 79 square miles, the largest land mass city in Orange County and third most populated city behind Santa Ana and Anaheim.
As the City continues to grow, the outstanding men and women of the Irvine Police Department are prepared to grow and adapt with it. As the short history of the Department shows, the Irvine Police Department is constantly adapting to meet the challenges of policing a growing, progressive population.
Irvine recorded the lowest violent crime rate per capita in the nation for the tenth consecutive year, based on data released by the FBI in 2014 related to 2013 crime statistics.