The City of West Covina was incorporated in 1923 to prevent the City of Covina from establishing a sewage farm within the current city boundaries. In 1936, the City Council decided to hire its own duly sworn police officer, Joseph Fritsch, who is known today as West Covina’s first ever police officer. Within the same month, a second police officer was hired, Orval Davis. Both officers used their personal motorcycles for the job because there were no police cars in use to date.
Prior to this, many citizens had taken the oath of office and were given a badge and authority. When Officer Fritsch joined, all badges carried by citizens were confiscated and no badges would be issued except to duly appointed and sworn police officer actively engaged in law enforcement. In 1937, a third officer was added to the department. This officer also owned his own motorcycle which was his primary police vehicle. Because the department had three officers, there was now a need for a Chief of Police. In 1937, Joseph Fritsch was appointed West Covina Police Department’s first Chief of Police.
In 1941, the City Council decided to purchase the police department’s first patrol car, a two door Buick Sedan. The vehicle was wrecked that same year and totaled. By 1942, the police department had grown to nine officers. Because of the growth, the police department headquarters (also known as “civic center”) was moved to 1808 State Highway in a place called Sunkist Village. That year the city contracted with the Covina Police Department to use their jail to book and house prisoners at $50.00 per year. Working conditions were then greatly improved as the officers were authorized to use their own vehicles at $3.00 a day because the department vehicle was still in the shop. In November of that year, a second vehicle was purchased.
Between the years of 1942- 1967, there was substantial internal growth with the purchase of two-way radios, additional police vehicles, and the recruitment of new employees. By 1967, the department had 64 officers, (a chief, 2 captains, 6 lieutenants, 7 sergeants, 8 detectives, 40 police officers, and 68 reserve officers). In 1969, the police department was moved to its current location at 1444 West Garvey Avenue. In that same year, the West Covina Police Department SWAT Team was formed, followed by the birth of the West Covina Police Department K-9 program in 1981.
As a result of remarkable expansion during the post World War II building boom, West Covina became America’s fastest growing city between 1950 and 1960, with the population increasing 1,000 percent from less than 5,000 to more than 50,000 citizens. The last two decades have continued to demonstrate steady growth. The number of residents expanded to a total of 106,098 as of the 2010 Census.
The West Covina Police Department has a proud history of service to the community. The police department has an authorized full time workforce of 90 sworn officers and 66 civilians. In addition, there about 55 part-time positions which include reserve officers and clerical staff. The Department also utilizes volunteer programs, which are a very important part of the overall public safety effort. The men and women of the West Covina Police Department strive to provide the highest level of service and protection for the community.