I was working the Mission Bay area in the early 1980’s and checking out the local bay parks for people drinking. I saw five guys standing around a parked car. They all moved when they saw me, so I knew they were up to something. I saw a bottle of beer at the feet of one guy and I asked him it was his. He denied ownership of the beer. They were all in navy, so I started talking to them about the importance of taking resposibility for your actions and as service members they should be responsibile. The guy near the beer changed his mind and claimed the beer. I thanked him for stepping up and taking responsibility. I started to walk around the guys on the other side of the car and I saw a baggie of marijuana on the ground, then another, then another and another. As I held up each baggie one of them claimed ownership. I issued four marijuana tickets and one glass bottle. Sometimes you run into honest people. I did thank them all for being honest.
I was working southeast division with a female partner on 2nd watch. We went to a local park on a call regarding some males drinking beer in the park. When we arrived we saw 2 guys with beer cans near the basketball courts. We went up to them and told them they were going to get tickets for possession of alcohol in a park. The guy I was talking to then turned and tried to run. I pulled him to the ground and tried to get him into handcuffs. The other guy stepped up to help his friend and my partner had to have my back. An off-duty officer came up and helped me cuff my guy. I looked back and saw my partner handcuffing her guy as she sat stradding him. When we got downtown I asked my guy why he treid to run. He told me that he had some “weed” on him. I had taken a small metal case, like people use to carry cigatettes and the weed was in there. I told him would have just been a ticket also, until I opened the case. He had 14 small ($5) baggies of marijuana in the case. He just stepped to felony possession for sales.
I was working sourtheast on 3rd watch with a trainee. We were driving in an alley when I saw a guy urinating up against a trash dumpster. That offense is arrestable, but usually is only a ticket. We stop and when I approach him he tries to run. We get him cuffed and during a search of his person we find $16.000.00 cash and 14 grams of methamphetamine. He said that he earned the money picking apples in oreagon and he had bought the drugs with part of his apple money. He lost the money and went to prison for a couple years. Watch where you urinate.
During my time on I knew about 30 cops that died of various things. I also went to about 25 officer involved shooting scenes. I knew 7 that died in motorcycle accidents, 7 that killed themselves, cancer took 4 more and the rest died in the line of duty. After I retired I went to the funeral of an Officer that I knew from SWAT and southeast patrol. He was killed in an aprtment complex in that community and nineteen years before another Officer had been killed in that same complex. I had worked around that Officer in southeast patrol also. We did not have an Officer killed by gunfire in that 19 year period. How weird was it that two cops were killed in the same complex 19 years apart.
After retirement I joined the retired fire and police association. They e-mail out all the department anouncments. Since retiring I can’t keep up with the deaths of so many guys that I knew. (over 25 at this time) I worked patrol all over the city and I got to know alot of cops. Each death takes a little out of you, depending upon how well you knew them, of course. It seems like if you make it to 60 years old, then you are gonna live a long time. Whatever killed them did it within a couple years of retirement, generally speaking. I ran into a retired officer that left in 1980, when I came on. At the age of 80 he started mixed martial arts and at 86 is a 2nd degree black belt. He is an inspiration.
In 1992 I was told by my doctor that I had signs of PTSD. (post tramatic stress disorder) I had been in my 1st shooting in late 1991 and I had been to several critic incident’s and I was also into my 4th year on SWAT. I started going to a place called FOCUS that offered assistance to department employees. I got some treatment for PTSD over the next few years. After my second shooting in 2003 I was diagnosed with PTSD, again by two different doctors. I started to see a doctor on a somewhat regular basis. I also filed a work compensation case for stress and the city accepted it and gave me a percent of disibilty. In 2008 I was in my 3rd shooting and my command filed a stress claim for me. I took an extra week off duty after that shooting. It was so close to my home that I walked my dogs by there the next day. In march of 2010 my stress level was high and I went to an urgent care to see a doctor for stress. I saw 3 different doctors from that same place over the next two weeks. They gave me a total of 8 days off of work (two weeks). I filed all the proper paperwork and the city, in its devine wisdom, thought that something was not done the right way and did not pay me. ( I got the money back about a year later)
I retired on 10-02-10 after a little more that 30 years as a patrol officer. I had to get out due to the stress. My left fingers would shake when I was in a critical incident. A few weeks after my 3rd shooting I had to point my gun at a posible armed suspect and both my hands were shaking so much the suspect noticed it. I left 22 months early and that cost me about $150.000.00 in retirement money, over 20 years.
In 2013 I filed to change my retirement from service to disibility. In september of 2014 the city retirement people sent me to see yet another doctor. After a 300 question test and a interview with the doctor he said I was no longer depressed, but I still had PTSD. I have had PTSD now for 22 years and counting. The stress that is applied by poor supervisors is much worse that the stress of being on the street. I am so glad to be retired.
I was a training Officer for about 18 years and during that time I had 75 active trainees. I also had other Officer’s trianees for a day or two. I had my 1st trainee, Tim Williams, in November of 1985. I was his 1st training Officer. He died about three weeks ago while riding his bicycle. Tim had almost 30 years on the department and his funeral showed how many friends he had. He was a great person and a great cop.
About 8 years ago another of my trainees, David Moya, was killed while riding his motorcycle on Imerpial Ave. His body was under the car that hit him and the motorcycle he was riding was new. Dave had left work early, due to a morning court case. The Officers he worked with responded to the accident. They didn’t know he was under the car, until it was lifted off by a tow truck.
I had some great trainees and some thatI knew would never be anything but a patrol officer. I always felt that if they could get through the Police Academy, then they should make it in the field. In the late 1990’s I was asked to take a problem trainee and just spend the month riding with him to document the reasons to fire him. I told the field training office that I could not do that, I would try to fix him. They were looking to fire him, so they found someone else.
The SDPD has changed its training program several times during my time as an FTO. (field training officer) At first it was 3 one month phases, then it was 3 two week phases and then 3 one month phases. The first 3 two week phases were while the recruit was still in the academy. They were “debriefed” after each phase. Questions were asked if their FTO got free coffee or 1/2 price meals or did personal business on duty. After phase 1 the recruits did give up their FTO’s, after phase 2 the blue wall came down.
My dad rode wih me in the early 80’s in Northern on 2nd watch. It was a busy shift and I had been pulled down to Pacific Beach to cover calls there. It was a sunday afternoon and the gangs from other parts of the city would come to the beach or bay to have picnics. The beach team supervisor came upon a gang fight involving 15 hispanic gangsters near Mission Bay. He called for “3 units code-3 cover now”. I was a couple miles away and I turned on my lights and siren. I started cutting in and out of traffic as my dad held on for dear life. He never said anything during his wild ride. We got to the call and I told him to get away from the car and mix with the crowd. The gangsters were all arrested by the beach team and we left. My dad got home several hours later and my mom told me the rest of the story. When he walked into the house she asked him if he had a good time with me and he just looked at her and poured a shot of whiskey and downed it. He poured a second and downed it too. He then looked at my mom and said; “your son’s an asshole”. The next day he called a Police Chief that he knew and asked about our code-3 policy. He found out that I had done the right thing.
My sister rode with me when she was just 18 years old and we were working the La Jolla area. We got a suicide call and I went in with fire and medics. The guy was lying on his back in his backyard. He had a 38 pistol in his right hand and his hands were folded over his chest. He had shot himself in the mouth and blood had pooled in his right eye. My sister wanted to come back and see the body, but I would not let her. After all she is my little sister.
Several times in my career I was involved in following vehicles at over 100 mph. I usually drove about 75 to 80 mph on freeways, so i could catch people speeding in front of me. To get someone over a 100 they usually have to pass me or come onto the freeway from an on-ramp. He are a few stories about those incidents.
I was working graves and driving N/B on I-805 from the I-15. I hd a car pass me and I caught up to him and paced him over 100 mph. The driver finally pulled over and I went up to the car. He and his passenger were so drunk they could barely even stand up. I put the driver in jail, this was his 4th drunk driving arrest and he later went to state prison for 9 months. At the time of his arrest he thought he was driving S/B on I-805, he thought they were heading to Mexico. But he was headed to prison instead.
Graves again and N/B I-163 out of downtown. I had a car pull onto the freeway in front of me and then start to speed up. I followed and he got up to 110 mph for a couple miles. He exited and I follwed him to his home and let him park his car. (I had already run his plate, so I knew where he lived) I arrested him for drunk driving, he didn’t think it was fair because he was already home. Well, he almost made it home.
Late 2nd watch about 10 pm and I was E/B I-8 from I-163. Traffic was light and I saw someone speeding and cutting in and out of traffic a about 1/4 ahead of me. I tried to catch up but he was going too fast and I was way behind him. The only way I kept him in sight was the fact that he was driving a truck and he left turn signal was on the entire time. He finally exited the freeway and then ran a red light and continued on. I followed him to his home and arrsted him after he parked his truck. If your going to drive drunk, don’t drive fast.
Graves and S/B I-805 from I-52. A vehicle enters the freeway ahead of me and the driving sped up. I followed and again he got up over 100 mph. I follwed for about a mile and then put on my overhead lights. The driver pulled to the right and got out of his car. He staggered into the traffic lane and I had to grab him and pull him to safety, before me both got hit. Again he was too drunk to walk. When he walked out into traffic it scared me. I thought he was going to get him by another car right in front of me.