by Guy Reimche, Half Moon Bay Police Department Sgt. (Retired) City ID#: 14
The news of the city's police department folding has hit me very hard.
In 1972, I had the pleasure of becoming Half Moon Bay's first police explorer, along with 36 other kids between the ages of 14-18. The explorer program gave kids firsthand working knowledge and training on being a police officer. Despite the fact that the program quickly diminished to 15 explorers over the next several months, Half Moon Bay's explorer post was so popular and fun that in 1975, the police department opened up the Half Moon Bay Police Cadet Program.
The Cadet Program allowed those age 18 to 21 to remain in the police department after graduating from the Explorer Program. Many transitioned from cadets to police reserves, then went on to becoming police officers in Half Moon Bay or in other departments. I remember that 10 police explorers followed their path into full-time law enforcement. Five of those became Half Moon Bay officers.
I learned early and quickly that I wanted to be a police officer, probably since I was nine. I wanted to follow in my father's footsteps since he too was a Half Moon Bay Police Reserve from 1969-1972. He left prior to me becoming an explorer when he took a job with Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) in San Francisco.
I had learned so much as an explorer and cadet that I was actually training some of the reserve officers with office duties, computer and booking procedures. In 1978 at age 20, I became one of the youngest police reserves HMBPD ever had with only one exception -- Glenn Magri, who was a reserve at age 18. I knew Glenn very well and had the pleasure to work with him on patrol.
Later in 1978, I chose to put myself through the police academy and took a leave of absence for three months, but I couldn't stay away totally. On some weekends I came out to work patrol, while the officers tested me on my academy training. I must say they were a little harder on me than the academy was probably since they were like a second family of mine for so long.
Two months after I graduated from the police academy, Half Moon Bay Police Chief John Gonzales called me on the phone and said to me the words I had longed to hear: "This is the Chief, how are you doing? I have a job open, do you want it?"
The next 17 years I took on a wide range of positions at the department: Patrol, Traffic Officer, Field Training Officer, Range Master, DUI Officer, Detective, Equipment & Fleet Officer. Later I was a driving force to develop a FTO/Senior Officer status to help provide supervisory coverage at times where there were no sergeants on duty. We wore corporal chevrons to distinguish us as FTO/Senior officers.
I was also chosen by Half Moon Bay Police Chief Dennis Wick for a week or two to fill in as acting Chief of Police while he was out of town on city business. In that week, we lost Mel Mello (who had served as a Half Moon Bay City Councilmember). The year before, we had about 3,000 people who caused havoc when they were celebrating Juneteeth. We also encountered many thefts and vandalisms along with reckless drivers. This year, I was called by our patrol sergeant and one other patrolman for assistance with the large number of people all over the city. We had prepared a few days earlier to call in all reserve officers and additional assistance from the Sheriff's Office and central police agencies like San Mateo and Foster City Police Departments. With the help of their units, we were able to curtail any acts of vandalism and thefts just with the numbers of law enforcement seen around Half Moon Bay.
For 12 years, I thoroughly enjoyed leading the July 4th, and Chamarita parades. However, all came to an abrupt end 15 years ago when my back finally gave out just before the Chamarita Parade in 1996.
On that day, I was getting ready to lead the parade when I had so much pain in my back and left leg I couldn't go on. That was the last day I had the privilege to work for the city of Half Moon Bay and the police department. During my time out on disability, the department and city treated me very well.
I had plans on coming back after my first back surgery, but alas, it wasn't to be: after a second back surgery a year later, the injury itself forced me out and I had to retire. It didn't keep me away from staying associated with the police department, though. Both Chief Wick and Lt. Waxstien wanted me to stay as a volunteer, which I did.
Following in my footsteps is my son Craig. He too was a Half Moon Bay Police Explorer and Cadet. After finishing the Cadet program he was hired as the CSO (Community Service Officer) for the department. I'm also happy to say he became the third generation "Reimche" to serve with the city's police force, which in all my years associated I cannot recall that ever happening before.
There is one thing that I'd like to share about my time as a police explorer: there were times that for me were very tough as a young teen in Half Moon Bay. My parents had divorced, and I started to well ditch school and do "teen-like" things, until the officers at the police department heard of these activities. All of them. At the time, there were seven officers.
All of the officers made it impossible for me to get out of line. I was picked up after school and driven to the police department where I had to do my homework and have it checked by the officers working that shift. Then I was driven home. The school also kept an eye on me: it was to report to the police department if I didn't show up for school or a class. I look back and without a doubt this kept me out of any further trouble. It kept me on track with what I truly wanted to do be -- a police officer with the department located where I actually grew up in -- the Half Moon Bay Police Department.
Two of the officers I’ve enjoyed working with that have served the city proudly for 25 and 24 years respectively, are Sgts. Michael O’Malley and Mark Reed. It should be noted that both Mike and Mark served as the department's K-9 (canine) officers, among many other duties that sergeants get assigned to.
I have so many stories. I was able to work with my best friend, too -- Randy Randleman. Both he and I had always caused enough "busy work" (read: havoc) for supervisors that we were never again to work on the same shifts.
The Half Moon Bay Police Department's closing is heartwrenching to me. Even though I was not always a paid employee there, I spent a total of 38 years associated with it one capacity or another, longer than anyone ever with the city. To me the closing -- and my wife will attest to it -- is like the closing of my second home.
All I can do now is say I will miss it tremendously. Good-bye, and thank you for a great experience.