advertisement read, “Weldco Welding and Fabrication needs welders.” They were located
in El Cajon, California adjacent to an airport known as Gillespie Field.
I arrived early for the interview then passed the welding test. The employees there were friendly to me. It was a good job.
Sometimes we did welding inside the shop sometimes outside on the production yard. Outside we could see
the airplanes coming in for touch and go landings. I loved to weld and I loved airplanes.
I had the best of two worlds.
When I first started a guy named Texas showed me around.
Texas was the forklift driver. When he worked he always wore tight jeans and a Cowboy hat. As I was driving into the parking
lot for work one morning I saw Texas. The trunk of his car was open and he was selling “T” shirts.
He saw me and suddenly closed the trunk. I figured okay, it’s private.
Bill and I became very good friends. He was a tall slender white guy, I liked him, he always had good jokes. We enjoyed working
“Bill?” I asked. “Texas was in the parking lot.
It looked like he was selling ‘T’ shirts out of his trunk. He saw me and closed it.”
“Oh, you saw that huh? They were those KKK ‘T’ shirts that he sells for the, Ku Klux Klan,” He chuckled.
“There you go with the jokes again.”
“I’m not joking this time.”
“Naw! Texas is so friendly. He
gave me my orientation when I first got here. I asked him a bunch of questions and he seemed so eager to answer. He was truly
“Not truly, he puts on a good front. He really hates you.”
“Well, Texas is a redneck, dam. Thanks for that.” I was curious.
“What do they look like? The shirts.”
a big KKK across the front. Then he chuckled, “with bullet holes is the back.” He looked at me. “I’m
just kidding about the bullet holes, but wearing a shirt like that in public ain’t healthy.”
I wondered how many others put on a front.
Bill started humming, he liked to sing
while he worked. He began singing a song he’d just made up. It was to the tune of the old, 1957 Marty Robbins hit,
A White Sports Coat (with a red carnation).
A white T shirt,
In the back,
Dup, do wah,
I’ll all dressed up
For the klan.
Bill had great satire
The wind was very strong that day. Bill and I were still out on the production
yard. I watched an airplane coming in for a landing. Unlike a car driving into a driveway, the nose of the airplane was not
pointed at the runway.
He’s gonna crash,” I yelled.
“It’s a crab angle,” he said.
“Crab angle. Pilots have to do that in the presence of crosswinds.”
never seen that.”
“I’ll show you after work.”
“We’ll I can see it right here,”
“No, from the front seat of
the airplane, I’m a private pilot.”
“Really? You fly Bill? Yes, yes
I wanna go!” I told him.
After three flights with Bill I was hooked. I enrolled into
a flight school called, Golden State Flying Club.
Each day after work, I’d take flying lessons
or ground school. On November 19, 1977 I realized a dream that I had all my life. On that date I acquired
my private pilot’s license.
While out on a motorcycle ride
I made a left turn on 4th and Broadway. Suddenly I heard a police siren.
“Oh no not again,” I stopped my motorcycle at the east curb of 4th Avenue. A San Diego Police Officer stopped behind me. He drove a four year old white 1975 Ford Torino. The police car was
all white with a bubblegum machine on top flashing red and blue. I faced straight ahead and peered into my rear view mirror.
A black police officer of average height and weight got out. He was dressed in a tan uniform with a shiny breast badge and
no patch insignias. He walked towards me.
“Driver’s license and registration
I thought to myself, I’m sure I wasn’t speeding but, he’s gonna
say I was, so I’ll just shut up. But I just couldn’t. I handed him the paperwork.
“Sure officer, I do something wrong?”
The officer opened his ticket book.
“You made a left turn in violation of the, ‘no left turn sign,’ see it there?” he asked.
I turned to look and saw the sign plain as day. “I’m sorry officer, just last week I got
a speeding ticket. That officer seemed like he was in such a rush to write. When I tried to explain he just cut me off not
allowing me to say anything.”
“Tickets hurt you. You need to slow down and pay attention
to the road signs,” said the officer.
Those words sounded a lot like my mom, Doris
“Sign here,” he said.
written me a ticket. He did the same thing the other cops did. I put on a frown and quickly scratched my name down on the
“Drive safely,” he said as he tore me off a copy, then he was gone.
I just sat there on my bike brooding, in malaise of myself. Had I been paying attention this never would
have happened. I looked at the cite. The bold letters at the top read, “TRAFFIC WARNING.” I
breathed a sigh of relief. I looked at where the officer signed his name. It read, “A. Buggs.” I whispered to
myself thank-you for the warning Officer Buggs, wherever you are.
This was the very first
time I had ever been stopped by a police officer that cut me some slack. After my last ticket I thought to myself, is there
not even a handful of police officers that can be allowed to have just a residue of compassion? An officer that can do the
job professionally and still treat people the way he would want to be treated, someone that would listen to people first?
Then in walks Officer A. Buggs.
Although I was talking about Officer Buggs, subconsciously I was
also talking to the man in the mirror. I never sped again.
At that time in history San
Diego Police Officers weren’t being paid what I was accustomed to getting as a welder. I wasn’t sure whether a
cut in pay was in my best interests.
Because of Officer Archie Buggs, I had the interest. I applied and
started at the San Diego Police Reserve Academy. The reserves are a volunteer auxiliary arm of the police department. Out
of a class of over eighty recruits, I found that Ted and I were the only black students there.
One of the predominantly white recruits in our academy class was George. He was in his late 30’s to early 40’s
and had retired from the military. He asked the academy instructor a question one day that I thought had racial overtones.
“Why is it always blacks committing crimes?”
I wondered how a person as worldly as
George could ask such a nonsensical question as that. He knows or should know that criminals come from every walk of life
and in all races.
Weeks later I drove to class and parked in the lot. I was there when
George drove in. I noticed that George had a screw on, screw off CB radio antenna on his truck. Because my CB antennas had
been unscrewed and stolen from me I asked.
“George, do you leave your antenna
unprotected like that?”
easy to steal, I had a few stolen.” He looked at his antenna and asked,
“And you need one?”
I felt affronted. His remark seemed to imply that I would steal his
“Mine’s in the trunk,” I told him, and walked to class wondering
if this guy was a redneck.
On September 14, 1978 I finished the academy and became a San Diego
Police Reserve Police Officer.
Still green I arrived for patrol one evening. Forces beyond my control
had me working with George that night. It was about midshift, and we had just finished transporting two prisoners to jail.
We got the call of an officer involved shooting and were reassigned. Our duties were to patrol the area of 5800 to 8500 Skyline
drive. Communications put out the description and advised that the suspects had just shot a police officer; they may still
be in the area.
We drove directly to the 7100 block of Skyline Drive.
“I gotta stop at the scene of this shooting, I wanna know what happened,” said George.
both wanna know,” I told him. It was November 4, 1978. I stepped out of
the passenger’s side of the police car. George got out on the driver’s side. There was a chill in the night air.
A fur like material lined the lapels of my tuffy jacket. I lifted them high to cover my ears. My hands were cold, I placed
them deep inside my jacket pockets to keep them warm. The first officers at the scene had roped off the area with plastic
tape bearing the words, “Police Lines Do Not Cross.” George and I lifted it above our heads and walked directly
into the crime scene.
We stood there and saw Archie Buggs, my inspiration. He was there
dead in the street at the curb, shot six times. My hands fell to my sides, I wasn’t cold anymore. George’s eyes
“They told me he was shot to death making a traffic stop,” he said.
Buggs was wearing the same uniform we had on. I was slapped in the face with the realization that we
were all brothers and sisters. As it has with so many of us, human frailty had its way. I looked at George, he and I wiped
ours eyes, it’s not easy watching a grown man cry, I looked away.
I was pissed,
I was so damn mad I wanted to scream. Buggs was my motivation and I never got a chance to thank him in person, he inspired
me. I wanted to get to know him, perhaps work with him, be his friend. I wanted to, “be like Buggs.” George and
I patrolled the area looking for his killers.
Another officer located the car that
was used in the crime. The mother of the suspects owned the vehicle. Buggs’s two assailants were members of a street
gang. Both of them were later taken into custody, their ages were 17 and 18. They were found guilty and incarcerated. Archie
had a huge funeral and was laid to rest.
What I did next I was compelled to do. I
went back to the police academy and on July 30th 1980 I finished the 98th regular police academy.
Now after over thirty years of public service, I can tell you that this exciting roller coaster ride
of adventure, intrigue and investigation after investigation was more than rewarding. As I pass the finish line my only hope
is that during my tour of duty, I had occasion to inspire someone as Buggs did me.
you gotta google this one, check it out. Last month American tourists who were visiting the Caribbean island of Antigua on
a cruise ship stopover, refused to pay a driver who gave them a tour because they believed they were being overcharged.
driver charged $50 for a tour ending at a beach, and the dispute started when he told them he would have to double the fee
to take them back. A fight broke out after the driver drove them to a police station, two plainclothes officers were injured
by the tourists, and the tourists were ultimately thrown in jail.
Their defense attorney said the group will challenge
the charges of malicious damage, assault and wounding the police officers. The Carnival Cruise Lines ship left without them.
The oldest of the tourists was 27.
This smacks too much of the hundreds if not thousands of San Diego’s youth that I see flock across the
international border to the glamour of the foreign nightlife. We have night life here in the US too; so, “what’s the draw?” you ask.
Maybe I forgot to mention that eighteen is the drinking age in Mexico.
For years those living
in areas of the United States located right next door to Mexico have watched American youth on the weekends as they herd south
of the border. They get drunk, or in some other trouble, get arrested and their families are forced to pay astronomical sums
to get their children out of jail. BTW, eighteen year olds are thrown in with the adults. Armed with this information an observation
can easily be made. Whenever on vacation out of the country, be the most humble person on the planet. Like Mexico, the laws
in other countries may be turned around too.
In the constitution of the United States one is supposedly innocent until proven guilty. In Mexico the law is directly
opposite, which means that if arrested there, one is guilty until proven innocent. Jail is immediate and there is no American
Civil Liberties in Mexico.
from people who have been incarcerated in Mexican jails tell that everyone is placed into one big cell and the floor slants
down like a huge funnel. In the center lies the rest room, a three inch hole called a bano.
The tourists in this incident in Antigua, an island
which lies in the Caribbean Sea say the cops did not have on uniforms. In other countries it may be that some of the cops
don't wear uniforms, or the police station may very well be a house. If not apprised of the customs and laws one may not
know. Throughout the decades there has been many spoiled and arrogant tourists touring other countries,
so the residents there have come to expect it, don’t be one. Still go and vacation out of the country, but check the
ego at the border. Regardless of birthdates, tourists everywhere have one thing in common; the same astrological sign —
a dollar sign.
are those in Mexico and other tourist attractions like Antigua that are just like some of the people here in the U.S. You
know; the ones who will try to take advantage of tourists. Be prepared for it. If it happens, pay the cab fare whatever it
is. Making a scene, fighting with the police or becoming part of an incident in another country just about guarantees the
aftermath will cost one hundred fold.
The tourist's defense is based on American law. Hellooo...News flash...When you
leave American soil throw everything you know about US law out the window. There is no US Constitution over
Scam or no scam, just pay the GD cab fare. You are in a third world country. There is no welfare, if an islander doesn't
work, he/she doesn’t eat. In conclusion just a safety reminder, tourist should never venture too far away from where
the other tourists are. If you do, don’t be shocked by what may happen to you:
1. Getting locked up
2. Getting your butt whupped
3. Missing your cruise (the cruise ship left)
5. Having to have a tender hearted resident of the island let you live there until trial.
Having to attend a slow moving trial overseas
Here’s a Johnny Cochran quote that’s the best information one can get. "Get the names
of the officers and call me." Life
is like a chess game, think two or three moves ahead.
Racial profiling exists, but I don’t
see this as a racial issue, heres why:
been to countless burglary calls like Sgt Crowley's. Everyone's alarm malfunctions once or twice. It's hard to
get excited about them anymore.
Black Contractors Assoc at 6100 Imperial, the building was locked and there was a brother behind the front counter on the
phone. The alarm was going off yet he was very annoyed a cop was there, he snapped at me and he didn't want to show ID
I know I wasn't liked
very much as a public servant. No matter what color, people just don't like cops period. But I was not trying to win votes.
Imagine a world with no black cops; there'd probably still be lynchings. A black cop trying to make
a difference in the community is hard; they get hammered on both sides, black and white.
There’s been countless times that I was disrespected.
In the white communities I had my "nigger moment" frequently. In the black community the disrespect came
At MLK Park near the tennis
courts I told a citizen that he can't run with his dogs loose through the park he opened a public water fountain so his
dogs can lick water from the spigot. The brother told me his dogs were thirsty and they needed a drink. The next week he did
it again, again and again. When he forced my hand and I gave him a written warning, (not a ticket) he told me to have shitty
day. Not race, but the disrespect, things that people say, things that are sometimes hard to dismiss. It’s
the things that hurts our feelings that forces the letter of the law rather than the spirit. Were my feelings
hurt? Sure. But I had been called every name but a child of God for so long I was immune to it. I knew the man wasn't
a crook; he just did not like the uniform. Experienced cops know who the crooks are.
Being aware of this is very important if cops are to win/keep public confidence.
As cops we should see police through the eyes of non-police citizens. While off duty, I've been stopped by a red
light in my rearview mirror , and asked myself, "WTF does he want?" A vigilant but low key approach by Sergeant
Crowley would have made all the difference in the world.
Cops need to take the time to know the people that they serve in their area of their responsibility.
On or off duty, go to community functions and get in their face. Mingle with everyone, whether they like you or not. The police
report says Gates refused to show ID when asked, but I think there were enough plaques and pictures on the wall, the cop could
tell he lived there without ID. I prided myself in knowing who the bad guys were. I also pride myself in
knowing who the decent people are too.
think both Gates and Crowley could benefit from a class in Interpersonal skills, it’s how we get along with people from
all backgrounds. After 20 years, it’s what helped me reach 31.