The Montebello Police Department was established in 1920, the same year that the City of Montebello California was incorporated. Prior to the establishment of the Montebello Police Department, law enforcement was the responsibility of the town marshal and/or constable.
A lawman by the name of Jack Maxwell was the first police officer and police chief for the City of Montebello Police Department in 1920. Chief Maxwell remained the chief of Montebello PD for over 20 years before moving to the "town" of Las Vegas where he served as the City of Las Vegas Police Chief until he retired in 1952. Chief Maxwell returned to Montebello after retirement and died on December 11, 1955.
Montebello is a city in Los Angeles County California located eight miles east of the downtown area of the City of Los Angeles. The Montebello area was first known as Newmark after a wholesale grocer by the same name who owned nearly 170 lots in the town. William Mulholland, who helped build and draft the city's water system, suggested naming the city Montebello after a small subdivision in the Newmark area owned by an Italian rancher by the name of Repetto. Montebello is Italian for beautiful mountain.
Montebello was originally known for its rich soil that produced an abundance of flowers, berries, fruits, and vegetables. This soil turned out to be even richer when oil was discovered in 1917. The discovery of oil changed the community of Montebello which is now a community rich in culture and history.
The men and women of the Montebello Police Department are proud of the city's rich history and proud to carry on the tradition of superior service to the community of Montebello started by law officers in 1920. The Montebello Police Department serves a community with a population of approximately 63,000. When the City was incorporated in 1920 the population was approximately 7000.
Throughout 2020 the Montebello Police Department will pay homage to those who served the great City of Montebello as law enforcement professionals. Part of this tribute will include all uniformed personnel wearing special centennial shoulder patches and special centennial badges that are similar in design to those worn by the city's first law enforcement officers.
The badge will be in the shape of a star. The star will have six points representing the original six townships in Los Angeles. Just below the first point will be the letters 'L.A. CO.' an abbreviation for Los Angeles County, the county in which Montebello is located. Centered between the next two top points will be a banner with the word 'Constable', the official title of law officers of various townships in Los Angeles County in the 1900s. Below the constable banner will be the walking grizzly bear, the California state animal. This symbol represents the state in which Montebello is located. The banner below the walking grizzly bear depicts '1920 Centennial 2020' to commemorate this special occasion. Below this banner is 'Montebello TWP.', "TWP." is an abbreviation of township and represents what is now the City of Montebello. The last portion of the badge, just above the bottom star point, will be the officer's rank and serial number.
The patch will have bold letters indicating 'Montebello Police' and will depict oil derricks, fruit trees and a palm tree which were all common sights in the City of Montebello in 1920. A banner indicates that this patch is a centennial patch from 1920 to 2020.
Chief Keller encourages residents to request to see an officer's identification card if they are skeptical of the commemorative badge and patches. Chief Keller also wants the public to know that no tax dollars were used for the badges and patches.