Uplands First Cop Was a One Armed Bad Ass....
I can remember when the Upland Police Force was all volunteer, and I think half of them lived on my block, and that might be right since there was only six of them....But, my story is about Uplands first legal law, not the various vigilante groups that seemed to rule the area in the late 1890 and into the early 1920's.....Uplands First Top Cop put a stop to them.
Jedd Sawyer was just Uplands first Chief even though there was at the time only one other deputy on the force, but he was fair to the Mexican population who where largely discriminated against during this time, and mean as hell to those who crossed his path, and all this with only one arm.
He was also the only man in Upland to be police chief longer, 29 years, and able to keep the small city peaceful, although he did manage to anger several of the local vintners when during the Prohibition era he actually dumped 350 gallons of one of the locals best vintage into the gutters.
It's pretty obvious, though, his physical limitation just wasn't much of a limitation.....Sawyer, who came to Upland at 16 in 1894, lost the arm in an accident while working for a local un-named water company.....And there must have been lots of bad guys who looked at him and figured he was a pushover, cause some one was always trying to slip one over on him...boy were they wrong.
One defendant who didn't fare to well with the chief was reportedly a southern type dude with a bad knife habit who confronted a local reporter who had written about this gents nasty habits, right on the steps of Uplands First Court House.....Sawyer saw the potential trouble and came up behind the would-be assailant.....Sawyer grabbed a neckhold with his one good arm. The man's knife thudded to the pavement. Chief Sawyer marched him into Judge George Crane's court.....The judge seizing up the incident with a few short words from the chief sentenced the southern gent to a few days in jail.
When the Chief released the man a after his sentence was served, he urged to man to get out of his town as soon as possible....He did.
In the early years of Upland, Sawyer still had only one other officer with him.....The Chief worked days, while the other worked at nights, acting more like a night watchman than a cop....and remember this was before radios, flashing lights, or even flash lights.
As the city and the police force grew, Upland officers spent their days chasing speeders as well as handling the rare robbery or violent incident.....But a few odd crimes cropped up, too.....On May 7, 1919, Sawyer and two other officers went in to break up a poker game on the second floor of the downtown Colburn building.....The five men arrested got a choice of 60 days in jail or a $60 fine....Naturally they chose the $60.00 fine.
In February, 1932, two men involved in a bitter civil suit, over $11.54, started fighting in Crane's court.....Sawyer, who's office was right across the hall, rushed into the courtroom after hearing the ruckus, grabbed one of the men around the neck and tossed him to the floor, ending the row.....Sawyer made an unsuccessful run for San Bernardino County sheriff in 1934......Not long after, he became seriously ill and died on Aug. 23, 1935, at age 57 after 5 months at home in bed.
There is one other story about Sawyer that showed he was more than just a tough guy with a badge.....Members of the Mexican community were used to being treated as second-class citizens by everyone at the time, but not by Sawyer.....Sawyer was revered by the Mexican community because he was a man who always gave them a break if they were being mistreated, either in public or at a business.....It was said that all of the Mexican people used to call him El Mocho (a man with a missing limb) because he was very friendly and honest to the Mexican people.
Gary Hall, theghostpainter