S. Paula Historical Society hears about Norman, Barmore, and history of SPPD

April 13, 2011
Santa Paula News

The Santa Paula Police Department has a rich and at times tragic history tightly interwoven with the community it serves, those attending the annual meeting of the Santa Paula Historical Society learned from the SPPD historian.

Lt. Carlos Juarez presented the program centered on the history of the department, as well as the upcoming memorial that will honor two officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The Santa Paula Police Memorial will be dedicated May 21 honoring the legacies and EOW (End of Watch) of Marshal Henry “Hugh” Newton Norman and Officer James Barmore, as well as all who served the SPPD.

Norman was shot after confronting four suspects on November 25, 1913.

Motorcycle Officer Barmore, responding to a vehicle accident, was killed in a collision that occurred February 7 1953; his widow, Betty Barmore Players of Camarillo, and son Tim Barmore, who serves on the SPPD Memorial Committee, attended the March 31 event.

Also a guest was Mrs. Norma Tull, whose late husband Ray Tull served as Police Chief from 1967 to 1980, and their son Warren Tull. Police Chief Steve MacKinnon - the 13th chief of the department founded in 1902 - also attended the dinner meeting held at Glen Tavern Inn.

After the welcome and business meeting conducted by SPHS Founder/Board President Mary Alice Orcutt Henderson, Nils Rueckert of the society introduced Juarez.

Rueckert, chairman of the SPPD Memorial Committee, said Juarez rose through the ranks of the department he joined as a Reserve in 1984. He became a full-time officer two years later and a lieutenant in 2006, and now Juarez directs the SPPD Support Division. Among his partners over the years was Marlo, his beloved K9.

A member of the Rotary Club, Odd Fellows Lodge, Historical Society Board and Cruise Knights band, Rueckert said Juarez also has an “awesome” lunch box collection. Juarez was the curator of the Odd Fellows exhibit and will also be preparing the SPPD exhibit - also to be featured at the Santa Paula California Oil Museum - to coincide with National Police Memorial Week and the dedication of the SPPD Memorial.

Juarez, noted Rueckert, was “with us from the very start” of the SPPD Memorial project. Juarez soon proved to be “our fundraiser extraordinaire and one of the hardest workers on the committee,” an effort, said Rueckert, that included tracking down past SPPD personnel for insights and inclusion in the memorial recognition program.

Juarez said trying to locate those who served the SPPD has been a “daunting task,” but he has made contact with more than 300 former employees, family members or friends of same since he started his quest. The Santa Paula Police Memorial Facebook page he created brought many leads, and Juarez said he also utilized “phone calls... a lot of phone calls.”

History is “best remembered by those who were there,” but in lieu of eyewitnesses, hours of research revealed much to Juarez, especially as he prepared biographical information for Norman. Noting one tenet of the Rotary 4-Way Test as it applies to historical research, Juarez noted, “Is it the truth? Quite possibly....”

Juarez displayed renderings of the memorial, and described the donation program crafted to ensure that each SPPD staffer is recognized with an inscribed brick leading to the memorial, which has a serene and scenic location.

Juarez spoke of Marshal Norman and Officer Barmore, noting details of both incidents that brought their End of Watch. He also showed a map that demonstrated the close proximity where each died. Juarez displayed a SPPD identification card of Barmore’s widow, Betty Jean, who “showed a lot of courage” as a single mother by going to work as a SPPD dispatcher following her husband’s death.

The uniformed Juarez offered a PowerPoint of the history of the SPPD, its chiefs, department personnel and challenges, and noted that before 1923 citizens had a series of marshals oversee their well-being. Combing through city minutes and resolutions starting in 1902 and photographs, Juarez addressed personnel, equipment and stations, even showing a vintage photo of a so-called “sputter wagon” - an early patrol vehicle.

Decade to decade Juarez highlighted challenges faced by the SPPD and its leaders, from the 1928 collapse of the St. Francis Dam when Lee Sheppard was the department’s first chief (1923 to 1928) to the 1970s, when unrest led to weekends of rioting in the city and headaches for Chief Tull.

Juarez made stops at interesting tidbits: the film career of second Chief Thornton Edwards (1929 to 1939), the Hero of the St. Francis Dam; circa 1930s SPPD letterhead noting the address as 133 N. Mill St.; the creation of the Santa Paula Police Boys Club by Chief Thomas Moore (1947 to 1953), the precursor to the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley; and the disgraced Chief George Weiner (1956-1957) who resigned after accusations of trying to open the city up to vice.

The SPPD’s proud legacy of K9s was also highlighted, with Juarez humorously noting, “People just love the dogs... they don’t care as much about the cops, but they love the dogs!” Juarez detailed more programs, projects and personnel of the department that have made the Santa Paula Police Department the icon of the community it remains to this day.

The SPPD Memorial, a 10-foot tall obelisk to be located just west of the historic Depot, will featured bas-relief plaques featuring portraits of Officers Norman and Barmore and their biographies. Placed between two tall flagpoles, the obelisk - reached by a walkway paved with and set upon a foundation of inscribed bricks - will also have SPPD badges and patches placed on opposing sides.

Following his presentation, Henderson presented Juarez with a $500 donation from the historical society for the Santa Paula Police Memorial. Donation checks - please note SPPD Memorial on the memo line - can be made out to and sent to Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation, P.O. Box 162, Santa Paula, CA 93061-0162. Donations are tax deductible.

For more information call Juarez at 525-4474 ext. 115.

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