ARCADIA — Charles Mitchell, who served as police chief here from 1974 until his retirement last month because of poor health, has died of cancer. He was 53.
Mitchell began his service with the Arcadia Police Department as a patrolman in 1964. He later became a motorcycle officer and was promoted to sergeant in 1968.
He worked as a sergeant until 1974 when the police chief position opened up. He was among 40 candidates for the job and was promoted over four lieutenants and three captains in the department.
He was perhaps best known for his undercover narcotics operations. In December, 1981, after a two-month undercover investigation, the department staged a drug bust at Arcadia High School, resulting in the arrest of 23 students and 5 adults on suspicion of drug dealing.
Mitchell later established an innovative canine program using multiple handlers for the police dogs.
But Mitchell did not spend his years as chief behind a desk. He spent many weekends during the Santa Anita Race Track season in uniform directing traffic.
He said his favorite moments came when irate motorists threatened to report him to the police chief.
Mitchell, an Arcadia resident, began his law enforcement career after serving in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. He was attending Muskingum College when he joined the Police Department in Cambridge, Ohio. After 2 1/2 years there, he spent nine years with the Ohio Highway Patrol before moving to Arcadia.
Mitchell is survived by his wife Carolynn and two daughters, Lori and Lisa. The funeral was held Wednesday at Arcadia Presbyterian Church with burial at Rose Hills Memorial Park. Contributions may be made to the Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital at USC or the John Wayne Cancer Clinic at UCLA.