When people think of veterans, they usually think of military men and women, but law enforcement also has its fair share of veterans. David E. Schulberg is one of these, who serves as a patrol officer, background investigator, author, professor and department historian.
Inspired by his older brother, Schulberg started in law enforcement with the Compton Police Department, the El Monte Police Department and in Nome, Alaska.
“I loved the adventure and the excitement,” he said. “It was also sometimes the worst time in my life too, like when I was involved in the fatal shooting of an aggressive pit bull dog that attacked several kids and myself. I still have sad memories of that night.”
Schulberg joined the force in Compton in 1986 as a full-time patrol officer and investigator. He tells stories of run-ins with gang members as a Compton school police officer. He left that post in 1992.
From 1999 through 2016, he served a reserve background investigator and department historian for the El Monte Police Department. He was assigned investigations as they came up and worked diligently on his book, “A History of the El Monte Police Department,” which was published in 2008.
The several-year endeavor covered the organization’s history from the 1920s, complete with vintage photos and documents.
One story Schulberg described in his book, and was personally involved with, was the famous Southern Counties Bank robbery cold case. The crime occurred in the 1930s and was not solved until 2008. At that time, the El Monte Police Department was contacted by detective Rick Graves of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s homicide bureau’s unsolved case unit. Graves was investigating the unsolved murder of Alhambra police officer James H. Nerison, who was fatally shot during a robbery at the Alhambra Theater in 1933.
Based on available records, including the original police report from the El Monte department, Graves closed the case, determining that Officer Nerison was probably murdered by a man named Clarence Smith.
While working at the department, Schulberg earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice and a Juris Doctorate in law. He taught criminal justice and criminal/civil law at Chapman University, California State University, Argosy University and others, both online and in the classroom.
“I still get contacted by students with questions, and they always call me Dr. Schulberg,” he said.
Retired from teaching, Schulberg and his wife Michelle moved to Lake Riverside Estates in 2018, where he keeps busy collecting and trading law enforcement badges and patches and writing monthly column for an international police insignia collecting publication, called the Police Collector’s News, out of Baldwin, Wisconsin.
“I started collecting patches in 1978,” he said. “I wanted one patch as worn by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, where I was an Explorer. I ended up with several hundred from that same department, dating back to the early 1900s to the present.”
Schulberg said he will continue to keep busy with his writing and collecting, as he patiently waits for a kidney transplant due to health complications. He displays a sense of humor, optimism and a smart wit.
Diane Sieker can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.