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August Vollmer Biography Overview



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    August Vollmer


                Contemporary investigative and law enforcement officers employ bicycle patrols, community relations, beat analysis, computerized record systems, fingerprints, lie detectors, crime labs, radio communications, patrol vehicles, and several others, with little consideration of their origins. Astonishingly, all of the aforementioned ground-breaking criminology and law enforcement techniques were from the creation of single imaginative mind of August Vollmer.

                August Vollmer was born in 1876, in New Orleans, Louisiana (Boren, n.d.). In 1905, Vollmer became the Berkeley town marshall and directed a department that, at the time, was unstable. Vollmer had clear-cut ideas of what he was looking for as he made education a foremost priority among his police recruits. In 1908 he started the Berkeley Police School, and reached more audience than any other officers in record. He believes in assailing the sources of the social problems, and he despises violence and capital punishment against criminals (Boren, n.d.). Vollmer wrote a book in 1949 entitled “The Criminal,” in which he incorporated the results of a lifetime learning in his area of concern (Boren, n.d.).

    Criminal Investigation Techniques

                Vollmer tried several improvements in criminal investigation techniques not only in Berkeley’s department but also in the entire United States. Vollmer made Berkeley the first city in America to place all its officers on bicycles and soon after in automobiles (Boren, n.d.). The earliest radio communications test was commenced in Vollmer’s department, in addition to the development of the first stress crime deterrence and finger-printing program (Boren, n.d.). In 1924, Vollmer incorporated radio communications to every squad car. In 1916, Vollmer established the first scientific crime lab in the United States, and was among the earliest marshal to appoint females as police officers (Boren, n.d.). Vollmer also promoted the invention and development of the first lie detector or polygraph machine. During his stint as Police Chief in 1921 to 1922, he was appealed to develop key police reforms in Havana, Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as to lead the National Commission on Law Enforcement. In 1907, Vollmer’s department utilized the first soil, fibber and blood analysis in detecting crime evidences (HP-TIME.Com, 1966).

    Conceivably the most noteworthy of all, in 1916 Vollmer founded on the Berkeley campus a school of criminology (HP-TIME.Com, 1966). The class eventually led to the establishment of the Bureau of Criminology in the University of California’s Department of Political Science, regular criminology course, a Master’s program in Criminology, and the foundation of the United States’ first and only officially designed School of Criminology. Vollmer’s importance on educated policemen has been transmitted forward to every criminal investigation conduct among the graduates.


                The present advancements of criminal investigation techniques undoubtedly originated from Vollmer’s initiation of training programs that focused in accurately preserving and collecting evidence; the production of workable lie detector machine; and establishment of full forensic laboratory in the Los Angeles. August Vollmer is a prodigy in law enforcement spheres because of the techniques he exceptionally initiated. He is the initiator of the professional policing development movement in the United States.

    Vollmer persuaded every individual to employ their abilities to the fullest, and his unbending rules of conduct are presently used as the standard code of ethics for law enforcement officers across the United States.


    Boren, K., R. (n.d.). August Vollmer – The Great Innovator. Retrieved October 23, 2008, from

    HP-TIME.Com. (1966, February 18). Finest of the Finest. TIME News. Retrieved October 23, 2008, from,9171,899019-1,00.html

    August Vollmer Biography Overview. (2016, Aug 06). Retrieved from

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