John was to become one of Richard’s best and longest standing friendships. He and his wife moved to Colorado a couple of years before Richard retired and when he followed, being single, he lived with them a little while. After Richard married, their wives became best buddies over the years and remain so today. John left us on April 21, 18 years ago, due to a bad ticker, but we’re sure he’s looking down from that big precinct in the sky and smiling about things as they happen.
In the academy, the police cadets had it stressed to them that there were several things they needed to know and remember. One of those was that on any shift except third detail (11:00p.m. to 7:00 a.m. – the action hours for police) they would not have to prove themselves. But if you opted to work third detail, the other officers would not speak to you or allow you to speak to them. The men who worked that shift were ready, willing and able to handle whatever might come up. It was a tough, elite and exclusive group of officers who would come and back you up on calls and they expected you to do the same for them, but then the procedure was to simply and silently drive away without a word. Naturally, this was the shift Richard could barely wait to pick.
Having grown up in western Kansas, Richard knew absolutely nothing about the streets of Wichita and various locations. So, he had some maps of the city streets and had drawn outlines for each of the 23 beat boundaries. There would be a regular beat officer for each beat, but on that officer’s days off, one of the rookies would be assigned to cover it. But no matter how fast Richard drove,he was always the last one on the scene of those early day calls, a trait he never admired in other cops.
Richard was a rookie the first time he met John and it was on third detail at the Wichita PD. A call came out on John’s beat and Richard was riding an adjacent area, so went to back him up. Being familiar with the street it was on (Broadway), it didn’t take but a minute to get there. Richard was in good shape that night when it came to locating calls.
As Richard got out of his squad car, John had a suspect in custody and the situation was under control in a short while. As was the custom, Richard drove off and John did the same. No small talk because Richard had not yet been accepted by the seasoned officers.
On another night, the stock yard people had called for assistance because a steer had escaped. Quite a bunch of officers were there when Richard arrived and the officers had a lariat (Richard didn’t know where it had come from) and, time and again, they ran the steer past the guy with the rope and he wasn’t able to lasso the critter. Since Richard grew up on a farm and had worked cattle, he told them to let him try because he’d done a little ropin’ in his day.
The next time the steer came running by, Richard lassoed it. Having underestimated the weight and strength of that critter, when he got to the end of the rope, he jerked Richard about 20 feet before he took a nose dive. While he was dragging Richard past all his fellow officers, John yelled out, “LET GO OF THE ROPE!” Richard finally drug the steer down and released him to the stockyard personnel.
About three hours later, in the wee hours of the morning, Richard glanced down where his badge should be and found it was missing. In those days, badges were expensive and it would take a week and a half’s pay to buy a new one. Therefore, as soon as daylight came around, Richard went back over to the stockyard and it was pretty easy to find his badge because he’d cleared quite a path when the steer was dragging him.
Over the 35 plus years Richard and John remained friends, whenever John wanted to “get Richard’s goat”, he’d say, “Let go of the rope!” It was a story he loved to tell until he died.
John had a dry sense of humor that was hysterical and he’d give you the shirt off his back. He left us way too soon and we will always miss him, but I guess God needed a special Range Master for all those LEOs in heaven.