CALISTOGA — Rare and never before seen photos and artifacts from The Napa Police Historical Society are on display at the Sharpsteen Museum through February.
The Preserve, Honor, Educate exhibit follows the evolution of Napa Valley public safety departments through its officers and the times they had to deal with including Prohibition and World War II, and in more modern times the DARE program, GPS tracking and forensics.
Numerous images and memorabilia will be on display, dating back to when the Napa Valley was still very much the Wild West.
Todd Shulman, a novelist and local police officer with an interest in history, founded the Napa Police Historical Society and is its president. He said some of the photos and artifacts in the exhibit have been kept in storage by the Society and have never been on display before.
“We tried to make it interesting and instructional. There are badges and artifacts from all the major agencies including the sheriff’s department, St. Helena, Calistoga, and Napa Police Departments and the CHP,” Shulman said. The comprehensive exhibit even includes a history on departments’ dispatchers, as “they play an important part.”
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Visitors to the exhibit will learn that the original Napa Police Department was founded in 1875, just three years after Napa was incorporated. The first Police Chief, Jerome B. Walden, earned $100 a month salary and Town Marshal Ebenezer Biggs was the area’s first law enforcement officer, as Shulman writes in “A Brief History of the Napa Police Department.”
Photos and artifacts will be displayed by topic, with a mixture of different eras, to show how the departments have evolved, Shulman said.
Highlights include the history of the SWAT team, artifacts from the Junior Traffic Police started in the 1950s, and photos and artifacts from a 1948 shootout between safecrackers and the Napa Sheriff and Police Departments that resulted in an officer being shot in the leg.
Shulman is the author of three books, including “Murder and Mayhem in the Napa Valley,” which talks about frontier times. Napa produced William Roe, who was the state’s first executed prisoner sent to the gallows.