OC Deputy turns in her badge after nearly 60 years
SANTA ANA, Calif. ” It was about six decades late, but the woman who was most likely Orange County’s first female deputy has handed over her badge.
And she got to give it to the county’s first female sheriff.
Alice Chandler, who first became a deputy in 1949, gave the badge along with a gun she’d bought for the job to Sheriff Sandra Hutchens at a ceremony Thursday on her 80th birthday.
“I didn’t know I was supposed to give them back,” Chandler said. “No one ever asked.”
Chandler was 21 when then-Sheriff James A. Musick asked her to keep watch over Peter’s Lake in Orange, the terrain of legendary developer James Irvine.
The sheriff gave a badge to Chandler, who had no training or experience, and granted her full authority as a deputy.
She bought herself a .32-caliber Smith & Wesson and scanned the land on horseback for three years until her family moved.
“It really wasn’t too hard,” Chandler said. “I never had to shoot my gun, just yell and chase people off.”
Chandler said she didn’t think of the badge and gun for years until she recently saw a current deputy and got a quizzical look when she told him about it.
She thought “hmm, maybe I should do something about that,” and wrote a letter to Hutchens, who was sworn in at a private meeting Thursday.
Records show that the department had written a letter to Chandler on the matter as late as 1975, but she said she never heard a word about the old badge.
The department couldn’t confirm that Chandler was its first female deputy, but spokesman John McDonald said they knew of no other candidates that would come close.