History ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2017


“Bloody Bay: Grassroots Policeways, Community Control, and Power in San Francisco and its Hinterlands, 1846–1915” follows the history of San Francisco’s spectrum of formal and informal policing from the American takeover of California in 1846 during the U.S.–Mexico War to Police Commissioner Jesse B. Cook’s nationwide law enforcement advisory team tour in 1912 and San Francisco’s debut as the Jewel of a new American Pacific world during the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915. These six decades functioned as a unique period wherein a culture of popular justice and grassroots community peacekeeping were fostered. This policing environment was forged in the hinterland mining camps of the 1840s, molded in the 1851 and 1856 civilian vigilante policing movements, refined in the 1877 joint formal and informal Committee of Safety, and perfected by the Chinatown Squad experiment of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. I argue that San Francisco’s culture of popular justice, its multiethnic environment, and the unique relationships formed between informal and formal policing created a more progressive policing environment than anywhere else in the nation. From an isolated gold rush boomtown on the margins of a young nation, San Francisco would rise to become a model for twentieth-century community policing and police professionalism.

Level of Degree


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Andrew K. Sandoval-Strausz

Second Committee Member

Samuel Truett

Third Committee Member

Durwood Ball

Fourth Committee Member

Andrew Graybill




informal policing, frontier justice, minority agency, barbary coast, little pete, chinatown enforcement

Project Sponsors

UNM Dept. of History

Document Type