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Remembering Former Chief Harold A. Bastrup

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Harold A. Bastrup

By Kevin C. Rice

About 100 friends, family and people touched by the life of Harold A. Bastrup gathered Tuesday morning in Anaheim to memorialize Anaheim’s former police chief.

Bastrup, who served as chief from 1974-1978, implemented the police department’s first cautious pursuit policy, first Explorer Post and first SWAT team – although, at the time, it was dubbed, the Tactical Approach and Control Team.

“Harold was a fair and firm leader with a great sense of humor,” said current Anaheim police Chief John Welter. “His decisions reduced injuries and saved lives.”

Chief Bastrup will also be remembered for hiring the first African American man and woman to the police force in 1977.

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Chief Bastrup shaking hands with President Ronald Reagan

Retired Garden Grove Police Lt, Dennis Ellsworth said it was intimidating as a police explorer to walk through and work in the police station, but Chief Bastrup took the time from his schedule to meet with the explorers, give them a firm handshake and tour them around the station.

“This is a celebration of an incredible life,” said Rick Bastrup, his son.

Retired community college instructor and Bastrup’s close friend, Richard Barasch, said that Bastrup and his loving wife of 65 years, Elsie, valued the importance of family.

Bastrup is survived by Elsie and four children and two grandchildren.

Descendants Savor Tour of Police Station Named for Family Patriarch

David Stephenson remembers sitting in his father’s olive squad car and fiddling with the Motorola communication device.

See the resemblance? From L-R, Charlie Stephenson, 12, Mark Stephenson and Jack Stephenson, 12 pose next to a photo of the former chief

On Friday, the memories came flooding back for the Anaheim dentist, now 73.

He visited police headquarters for the first time since the building was rechristened the “Mark A. Stephenson Police Station” nearly 20 years ago. His father was APD’s longest-serving police chief.

“This is super,” he said. “Really super.”

Stephenson brought his son, also named Mark, and two grandsons, Jack, 14, and Charlie, 12, for the tour and history lesson.

Jack and Charlie had never met their great grandfather, who died in 1992. He was 88.

“Your great grandfather was known as a very tough but very fair police chief,” current police chief John Welter told the boys. “He’s responsible in many ways for setting the high standards for which we’re known today.”

Current Chief John Welter shows off mementos as David Stephenson, son of former chief Mark Stephenson, looks on

Welter shared a letter Walt Disney himself wrote to their great grandfather, dated June 29, 1955. The amusement park had yet to open.

Disney thanked Stephenson, and wrote the department’s support would “greatly contribute to whatever success Disneyland may enjoy.”

Charlie Stephenson’s reaction: “Whoa.”

Stephenson was an Anaheim Police officer for 42 years and served as chief from 1946-1969.

When he started, APD employed 11 officers. By the time he retired there were 288.

Today, there are nearly 400.

Former Chief Mark Stephenson

Pictures of Stephenson – and from his era – are displayed outside the chief’s office, in the briefing room and elsewhere in the department.

Sgt. Rick Martinez, the department’s public information officer, met and interviewed the former chief. He shared several anecdotes, including one about how Stephenson won support for a new jail.

Forensics supervisor Jim Conley talks about evidence gathering with the Stephenson family. The bottles were gathered from a party where a homicide occurred

“He told a newspaper reporter that we had the worst jail north of Tijuana. That quote was picked up everywhere. Folks in the city weren’t happy about the comment,” Martinez said. “But he got his jail.”

He also changed the color of the uniforms from navy blue to tan because “it was cooler during the hot summers,” Martinez said.

David Stephenson said he enjoyed spending a few hours reminiscing about his father – and sharing his contributions with his son and grandsons.

“It feels really good to be here again,” he said.