The Bureau of Investigation traces its roots to 1947, when newly elected District Attorney William Mackey (1947-1967) hired two investigators to help prepare cases prosecuted in his office. Before that, when law enforcement agencies brought cases for prosecution they also handled the investigation of those cases.
These first two investigators were Archie Vandervallen, who had been a motorcycle officer with the Corona Police Department in the early 1930's and then an officer in the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, and Investigator Kelly, who had no prior law enforcement experience.
In 1949, Mr. Mackey hired Lloyd (Pinky) Bowler to work in the Eastern area of the County. Bowler had been the first Chief of Police in Palm Springs, for what was then called the "Palm Springs Police Protective District" (1938 to 1939), and worked as a lieutenant in the Sheriff's Department before joining the District Attorney's Office.
During the 1950's, only half a dozen investigators worked cases countywide - rotating assignments on a monthly basis to handle casework in Indio and Blythe. They prepared cases for trial, served subpoenas, and handled political investigations. There were courthouses in Riverside and Indio, but Justices of the Peace handled matters in Corona, Banning, and Hemet.
In 1967, newly elected District Attorney Byron Morton appointed Paul Lewis as the first Chief Investigator of the bureau. Lewis had begun his law enforcement career in 1951 with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and had come to the DA's Office in 1957. When Lewis retired as chief investigator in 1979, there were 20 investigators countywide - one each in Blythe and Corona; four in Indio; and the remaining 14 in Riverside.
Six investigators have led the bureau since its inception: Michael Bell followed Lewis in 1979 and 1980. And after Bell came Thomas Evans (1980-1983), who had worked as a DA Investigator since 1962. Next at the helm was Allan Lynch, who had been Assistant Chief, and served as Acting Chief Investigator from January 1983 to February 1984.
In March of 1984, newly elected District Attorney Grover Trask appointed Michael J. (Joe) Curfman to manage the investigative staff. Under his direction, the Bureau sought experienced investigators not only from Riverside County law enforcement agencies but also from agencies throughout California. During Chief Curfman's 20 years, the size of the investigative staff increased to 125 - 78 investigators, plus investigative technicians, forensic technicians, and clerical support staff. This workforce fully staffed the district attorney's offices in Blythe, Indio, Riverside Main, Riverside Juvenile, and Temecula.
In September 2004, Chief Curfman retired and Clay W Hodson was appointed to the position by District Attorney Grover Trask. Chief of Investigators Hodson's previous career included serving as the Bureau's Assistant Chief Investigator for 14 years (7 years in Indio and 7 in Riverside), as a Supervising Investigator for 5 years, as a Senior DA Investigator for 2 years, and as an officer and detective in the Whittier Police Department for 14 years.
In June 2007, Chief Hodson retired and newly elected District Attorney Rod Pacheco appointed Victor Greene to manage the investigative staff. Chief Greene's previous career included serving as the Bureau's Assistant Chief Investigator and a Supervising Investigator for more than 6 years, as a Senior DA Investigator for 2 years, as a Riverside County Deputy Sheriff for 12 years, as a Military Police Reserve Sergeant in the United States Air Force for 17 years, as a Military Police Patrolman, Investigator and Sergeant in the United States Marines for 6 years. Chief Greene served with distinction until his retirement in 2008.
On September 24th, 2008, District Attorney Rod Pacheco appointed Vern Horst to Chief of the Bureau of Investigation. Chief Horst has been a law enforcement officer since age 19 while on active duty in the United States Marine Corps, when he was hired as a reserve police officer for the City of Orange. Chief Horst served as a police officer in Orange County until 1989 when he went to work as a deputy sheriff for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. As a detective he worked homicide and violent assault investigations until he promoted to sergeant. In 2006 Chief Horst left the Sheriff’s Department as a lieutenant and was hired by the District Attorney’s office as a supervising investigator.
In January 2011 newly elected District Attorney Paul E. Zellerbach appointed retired Chief Clay Hodson as his new Chief Investigator.
In Riverside, the Bureau has occupied five locations. From its inception until 1972, it was located in the basement of the historic County Court House and then moved to the second floor of the Lewis Building on Tenth Street (now occupied by the Robert Presley Detention Center). In 1981, the Bureau moved to the second floor of the County Administrative Center and operated from there until 1991, at which time the Bureau moved to 4075 Main Street directly across from the historic County Court House. By 2006, the District Attorney's Office had completely outgrown 4075 Main Street and the Bureau of Investigation was relocated to a temporary facility at 2300 Market Street. By the end of 2009, construction of the new District Attorney's Office at 3960 Orange Street was complete. In January 2010, the Bureau of Investigation moved into the District Attorney's new building, thereby reuniting investigators with the rest of the District Attorney prosecutorial team. Investigators occupy space throughout the building, with the third floor exclusively dedicated to the Bureau of Investigation.
The Bureau also has two additional Divisions located at 30045 Technology Dr., Suite 103, Murrieta and 82675 Highway 111, 4th Floor, Indio and a Branch Office located at 220 North Broadway, Blythe.
Today the Bureau staff has 201 staff - with 121 Sworn investigators in the three divisions (Western, Southwest and Eastern). And although trial preparation remains the primary mission of the Bureau, many specialized areas of investigation are staffed: major fraud, elder abuse, environmental crimes, insurance fraud, political corruption, workers' compensation fraud, and child abduction. Additionally, the Bureau has investigative staff assigned to various task forces and specialized teams such as; Regional Gang Task Force, Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) / Sexual Predator Internet Decoy Enforcement Riverside (SPIDER), United States Marshals Warrants, Gang Suppression Enforcement Team (GSET) and Riverside Auto-Theft Interdiction Detail (RAID).The Bureau also offers opportunities for non-peace officers to specialize - e.g., Audio / Video Technicians, Forensic Technicians and Investigative Technicians, whose assignments include computer forensic examinations, audio / video evidence collection and processing, crime scene processing, dispatch, subpoena service, homicide investigations, and special prosecution investigations.
The Bureau of Investigation staff includes some of the most experienced peace officers in the State of California. They continue to provide exceptional investigative support to the trial staff - thereby helping the district attorney prosecute both criminal and civil cases and ensure that justice is done and the rights of all are safeguarded.
Special thanks to these law enforcement officers for contributing to this history:
- Chief Investigator Paul Lewis, Ret., Riverside County District Attorney's Office
- Chief Investigator Tom Evans, Ret., Riverside County District Attorney's Office
- Assistant Chief Investigator Bryant Wood, Ret., Riverside County District Attorney's Office
- Senior Investigator Jim Lassigne, Ret., Riverside County District Attorney's Office
- Donald Archer, Former Investigator, Riverside County District Attorney's Office
- Chief Deputy Sam Lowery, Ret., Riverside County Sheriff's Department
- The late Joe Greer, Former Chief of Police, City of Corona Police Department
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