CHIEF STEWART P. McMULLEN
SDPD 10/09/1917 - 04/08/1919
05/07/1872 - 08/23/1954
Stewart P. McMullen came to San Diego in 1912 from the east coast where he had experience in municipal government having managed a water district. When McMullen arrived in San Diego, he set up a successful shipping company and within a few years he had attracted the attention of City Hall through his efficient management.
By 1916 McMullen was so well known around City Hall that he was seriously being considered for the position of City Manager. It was his reputation within the business community and his friends at City Hall that made him a top candidate for the office of chief. Foolishly, the council didn’t learn from Steer’s appointment that being a good businessman doesn’t necessarily translate into being a good police chief.
They also apparently didn’t notice in the past where the rank and file officers didn’t welcome outsiders very well.
Regardless of the warning signs, on October 17th McMullen was appointed the third new police chief of the year on a 4-3 vote. Following the Mayor's recommendation, James Patrick was named assistant chief. It would now be up to McMullen to try and take charge of the department. Something Joe Steer wasn’t given a fair chance to do. After more than a year in office, McMullen found himself engaged in a fight with Mayor Wilde over enforcement of vice laws. McMullen wanted to close down the remainder of the brothels in town while Mayor Louis Wilde, concerned about losing revenue from sailors on shore leave, wanted to keep them open. As election time closed in, Mayor Wilde began telling the press if he were re-elected McMullen would be fired. Wilde won and on April 8th McMullen sent in his resignation. Once again James Patrick was named as chief.
Once out of office, McMullen returned to the private sector but he missed politics and his friends at City Hall. He was elected to the City Council in 1923 where he served four years before becoming a County Supervisor.
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