Community chuckling after police Cpt. responds to critical incident in 64-year-old squad car
“Today’s Lighter Side of the News…”
HEMET — When a City of Hemet police officer put out an emergency radio broadcast that he was being shot at while chasing a man who fled from a traffic stop yesterday morning, every available local, county, and state law enforcement officer in southwest Riverside County raced to the scene. Yesterday’s critical incident quickly turned into an hours-long standoff after a gun battle inside an apartment complex that later ended when the alleged gunman took his own life.
In the aftermath of the deadly incident a photo shot by a community reporter has been making the rounds on the Internet, causing area residents and law enforcement officers throughout the region to enjoy a good laugh.
LEADING THE RCNS HEADLINES:
The photo, which was shot by Timothy Franzese of Facebook’s Public Safety Incidents and later submitted to RCNS, shows a line of patrol vehicles that had raced to the scene to assist the officer being shot at.
In the line of newer model Crown Victoria’s and SUV’s, one unique patrol vehicle – a fully restored, 1954 Ford Hemet PD squad car – stuck out from the others like the relic from the past that it is.
Although the classic Ford is usually seen parked at car shows and other special events, or being driven in the San Jacinto valley’s 4th of July and Christmas parades, when yesterday’s call for help went out it was the vehicle that sped Hemet PD’s Cpt. Brock to the crisis and into the line of fire.
As it turned out the captain was actually driving the historically accurate patrol car – complete with rooftop and side red lights, siren, and police radio – to a special event when he heard the officer’s distress call, turned around, and raced to the scene.
“I was driving our ‘54 Ford to the Veterans Day Ceremony and Car show at Gibbel Park yesterday morning when I heard one of our Officers was being shot at over the police radio,” Brock explained the next afternoon, after seeing a humorous RCNS social media post with a photo of the patrol car at the scene of the shooting.
Although originally headed to the special event, the officer’s radio call required an “immediate response” Brock said of the critical incident, “…even if you are driving a 64-year-old police car.”
Despite the age of the old black and white Brock said, “I pushed her pretty hard getting to that incident but it performed well!”
That was music to the ears of Aguanga resident Chris Walters, who is one of six mechanics who works for City of Hemet’s Maintenance Shop and had been wondering why the Crestline didn’t make it to yesterday’s Veteran’s Day event.
“I am sure the captain got some strange looks as he rolled code in our old classic unit,” Walters said in his own social media post after seeing RCNS’s photo about the car’s recent real-world use.
Walters later told RCNS he and the others who work in the maintenance shop are the ones who make necessary repairs and provide ongoing preventative maintenance for all the city’s official vehicles.
He also said he was sure the other mechanics would be delighted to hear that the old Ford “performed admirably” during its recent “Code 3” run and “that she is still doing her job well!”
Although Hemet PD’s historically accurate 1954 Ford Crestline is more accustomed to being parked at special events or being driven in local parades, Hemet PD’s Cpt. Glen Brock said the old black and white still “performed well,” after he recently rushed to the scene of an officer involved shooting and armed standoff in the classic squad car. Hemet PD photo
Some who saw the post were quick to make comments and jokes about Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor and his “one-bullet toting” sidekick Deputy Barney Fife, from the classic 1960s television series “The Andy Griffith Show.” Of course, many “Car 54, Where are you?” references were also made of the one-of-a-kind ’54 Ford.
Others said they were sorry to have missed the sight and many said they were hopeful someone happened to capture video of the unique incident that is unlikely to ever happen again.
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One person who didn’t miss the spectacle was area resident Jackie Edwards, who later told RCNS she had seen several black and white patrol vehicles, including the ’54 Ford, rushing to the scene of the shooting and was shocked when she saw Cpt. Brock behind the wheel.
“At first I thought it was a prank or that the city was filming a promotional video or something – like that was all the city could afford for the captain to drive,” Edwards said with a laugh. “But when I saw that more police cars were continuing to scream into the area and realized that whatever was happening was so important that he had to drive that, I knew whatever it was it must be pretty big.”
“I mean, I’ve seen their cool car in the parades and all, but getting to see her rolling to a hot call one last time, what a sight to see!” Edwards enthused.
If anyone happened to capture photos or video of Hemet PD’s ’54 Ford squad car rolling to the scene of yesterday’s critical incident, please let us know by email. We would love to share them with the community.
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Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 14 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.