by Ski Ingram
It was Halloween Night and my second month on patrol. My Training Officer was Melissa Brea Riddle. She was married to Sergeant John Riddle. Melissa and her husband had a business on the side hanging wallpaper. This Halloween night Melissa and her husband took the night off to attend a Halloween party. Believe it or not but they went to the party as rolls of wallpaper.
Since Melissa took the night off, I was assigned to Paul Orr as my Training Officer for the night. Paul was one special kind of Officer. He always dressed impeccably. I’m not sure he ever got in a knock down fight with anyone or even chased anyone down a dark alley. He ate at all of the best places and spent his time being the best dressed officer in the department.
That night we spent a lot of time going from place to place where Paul would talk to all of his friends. We ate dinner at a fancy restaurant in east Long Beach. Later in the night it began to rain. We got a call of a traffic accident at the corner of Ximeno Ave and 15th St. when we got to the scene, we saw that one car had turned over in the accident.
The driver of the car that had turned over was a very pretty girl about 19 years old. Because it was raining, I had the girl wait in the back of our police car. The other driver waited in his car while I conducted the investigation. The first thing I did was get the driver information of the male driver who I had wait in his car. I then got in the front passenger seat of my police car in order to get the female driver’s information and story about how the accident happened.
Before I got all of her information, we heard a call of a robbery and shooting that had jut happened about a half mile from where we were. I looked a Paul ha looked at me then I said to the female “I’m sorry, but you have to get out of the car now.” She looked at me as if saying, but it’s raining.” I said, “please get out.” It was raining quite hard by this time, but she did get out of our car. As soon as she did Paul took off red lights shining and siren blaring.
We heard that the suspect was driving a Porsche 912 and speeding south bound on the 22 freeway. Paul drove east on 7th street which turns into the 22 freeway as you enter the City of Seal Beach. When we caught up to the pursuit, I could see that there were more than 20 police cars chasing this guy.
It was raining pretty hard, so we weren’t going all that fast. We were all in the carpool lane with the suspect’s car at the head of the line. Our car was so far back that I couldn’t see the suspect car. I saw that there were police cars from other agencies that had blocked the freeway offramps in order to prevent the suspect from exiting the freeway. When we got to the city of Garden Grove the suspect turned off of the 22 freeway and on to the 405 freeway. We were doing about 80 to 90 miles an hour as we all travelled east on the 405 freeway.
I don’t remember walking Paul and I talked about if anything. I just sat in the passenger seat and enjoyed the ride. At one point most of us in the pursuit were told by Communications to return to Long Beach. Paul ignored the communication and continued the pursuit. We were pretty far behind the suspect, and I believe he wanted to catch up to the suspect vehicle.
We were about a mile from the US Mexican border when the suspect vehicle ran out of gas and was taken into custody. Paul drove to the end of the pursuit. There must have been over 30 police cars there no counting the ones from San Diego PD. Our car was just about out of gas as every other Long Beach car. Someone negotiated with San Diego PD to fill up our gas tanks at there station. We al drove to the San Diego PD station and filled our cars up with gas for the ride home.
When we finally got back to Long Beach it was after 2AM, past our time to get off work. I still had my accident report to write, and I had no idea how I was going to do it since I hadn’t taken measurements or gotten the complete stories from the accident victims before racing off to get in the pursuit.
The next day before going to work I got a map of Long Beach and used it to make up a traffic accident I hadn’t investigated. I turned the report in and never heard another word about it.
A few days later I was called into someone’s office. I was so new that I had no idea who he was. I was told that I was going to receive a reprimand in my file for disobeying an order and not returning to Long Beach when told to do so. I tried to explain that I was on probation and a trainee, who wasn’t even working with the assigned training officer, so I had no control or say in what Officer Orr did. It fell on deaf ears, and I was dismissed.
I was more than a little upset and worried that I may not pass probation because of getting in trouble in my second month of training. A few days later I was informed that my letter of reprimand would be removed since I was in training and had no control over what Officer Orr had done.
A few months later the department came out with a new pursuit policy. It was very restrictive. If you needed to go in pursuit you needed to ask a supervisor first. Before he would give you permission you had to tell him why you needed to go in pursuit. You needed to give a vehicle description, a suspect description and a speed and direction of travel.
In the end the pursuit policy was changed a few times before the department settled on one that worked.
Someone printed up some polo shirts with the words “120 miles at 120 MPH” with a picture of a police car in pursuit. I bought one and still have it today.
As remembered by Ski Ingram January 2023