ACTING MARSHAL JAMES RUSSELL
1878 - 1879
With no replacement for T.M. Turner available, Constable James Russell became San Diego’s top lawman. Apparently he didn’t want the job that bad either. Despite his earlier interest he never officially accepted the job as Marshal and worked more as a chief constable.
With Russell in charge, constables concentrated on making arrests and serving processes for those who paid them. Those without money were left without law enforcement protection.
As Russell made a name for himself, he became aware that it was not the right time for the top lawman’s job and on February 1, 1879, he became like all the marshals before him when he resigned in frustration.
The resignation was further proof the job of city marshal, and the conditions imposed upon it by the trustees, were such that no one in their right mind would want it.
But, rather than change the working conditions of the office, on February 6, 1879, the trustees passed an ordinance disbanding the office. All law enforcement duties would now be the responsibility of the San Diego County Sheriffs Department under Joe Coyne. Constables were to work for him when not serving the courts or hired for private duties.