MARSHAL ALFRED F. "A.F." KNOWLES
1874 - 1876
Within a month the trustees apparently had a change of heart, at least about what the Marshal was supposed to do.  They assigned his top duties as the construction of roads and bridges and tax collection.  For every day the Marshal worked at building a road he would be paid $3.00.  To help find a labor force, the trustees passed an ordinance requiring all men between the ages of 21-50, to work at least 16 hours per week building roads.

If Knowles was able to find the time to enforce the law, he was to bring forward an expense sheet for what he spent doing it and he would be reimbursed.

In September 1874 the Marshal reported to the trustees he was making progress on building roads but found he lacked the legal authority to arrest people for such crimes as disturbing the peace and setting fires.  When asked why, he pointed out there were no laws on the books prohibiting it.  In response, the trustees passed several new ordinances including ordinance 60 that made a person liable for letting his or her animal run the city streets.  A problem Marshal Gassen had battled for years. In the event the animal’s owner couldn’t be located, ordinance 63 was passed allowing the Marshal to take the animal to the outskirts of town and kill it but he also was required to clean the carcass and dispose of it.

If Marshal Knowles was starting to feel like a junkman being handed every municipal job no one else wanted, he was actually given some official police duties in November 1874 when the trustees passed a speed limit of 6 mph for all horses and buggies while in the town.

Despite working strictly on commission and taking on all of the tasks placed upon him that were not police related, Knowles stayed at it for almost two years.  The next Marshal, Albert Stowe, would face even more challenges.


After Marshal Gassen’s resignation, the trustees selected Alfred "A. F." Knowles as his replacement.  Shortly after being selected Knowles posted the required $10,000 bond and took office.

Marshal Knowles wasted little time in making it known San Diego’s third world look was no longer tolerable.  Ordinances related to littering, loose animals and general filth would be strictly enforced.  Knowles also took on the role of fire marshal when he began conducting inspections for fire hazards.

If the idea was to begin a process of creating a new and professional law enforcement agency, the city took a huge step backwards when, on May 26, 1874, they repealed the provision in the charter that allowed the Marshal to be paid.
THE THIN BLUE LINE