Lone Policeman, Haight District
During the 1800s San Francisco policemen generally worked alone and had to deal with any problems by themselves. In the crowded downtown area a policeman's whistle would summon immediate support. But in the isolated outer neighborhoods the officers were on their own. Any arrest made there would require the policeman to transport an often-struggling suspect for miles to be locked up, often with the suspect's friends interfering the whole way. Additionally, for some street hoodlums attempting to beat up lone police officers was a rite of passage .

Two advances helped the San Francisco beat cop. First the call box in 1886 allowed officers summon help. At first most police were reluctant to call for help as it was only a bad cop who couldn't 'handle his own beefs.' But attitudes changed and by 1892 there were 166 police call boxes around the city. The second advance was the introduction of the police wagon which aided in getting suspects to the station house. Prior to that drunks were often transported in a borrowed wheelbarrow.

As tough as the San Francisco police were, unlike in most other large cities, they tended to ignore gambling, drinking, and prostitution. From its early days San Francisco was always a wide open town and the police and most of the public took a laissez-faire attitude to these activities. There was a general agreement that everyone accepted, as long as the saloons, gambling dens, and brothels were run fairly and quietly then the police would leave them alone.
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