CHIEF JACOB BRENNING (08/28/1891 - 04/27/1897)
SDPD 06/01/1889 - 04/27/1897
UNKNOWN - 04/18/1906
After William Pringle's refusal to accept the job as chief, the Police Commission wisely decided the new man should be promoted from within the ranks. Their choice was Officer Jacob Brenning, one of the original officers hired when the department was formed two years earlier.
Officer Brenning was on his beat in the area of 5th and H Street when he was approached by a reporter from the San Diego Union asking how he felt about being selected as the new chief. Brenning was astonished. Apparently no one had bothered to ask him if he wanted the job either, but he happily accepted.
Naturally, one of his first requests was for more men. As other chiefs after him would discover, the council’s standard answer to additional staffing requests was, “no money.”
Brenning managed to meet the challenges of the job with whatever he was given to work with. Shortly after taking office, the city was faced with a strike of Longshoreman. The chief assigned all seven officers to guard the docks. Thankfully, they weren’t needed. The strike remained peaceful.
In July 1893, Chief Brenning was voted a second term. Requests for additional funding finally paid off and three new officers were approved. In addition to picking up more men, everyone was given raises. The salary of the chief was now $125.00 per month, two mounted patrolmen were given $115 each and the salary for walking patrolmen was set at $100.00. The new funding would prove to be very unreliable. Within two years, the department would take another major budget cut when the economy once again turned sour.
By 1894 the local economy continued to decline and the population of the city dwindled to a little more than 5000 people. Once again, houses and businesses sat abandoned and wild animals ran the streets. To deal with the budget shortfall, the police commission cut the pay of officers and chose not to backfill vacant positions. Staffing dwindled to six officers.
The economy continued to seesaw for the next several months, but by January 1897 the department had grown to fourteen and the population now topped 22,000.
Jake Brenning officially left office on April 27, 1897, almost a full eight years after the police department was founded. In his resignation letter to the council, he cited having had his fill of public life although there were rumors he owned an extensive mining interest in the desert community of Banning.
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