Newhall Incident/Shootout/Massacre, Firefight Friday

In the early hours of April 6, 1970, a series of events occurred that brought about the largest single day loss of life for California law enforcement. From start to finish, it took 5 minutes. At approximately 2355 hrs of April 5, two CHOP officers, Walt Frago and Roger Gore initiated a traffic stop on Jack Twining and Bobby Davis.  They were initially compliant, but minutes later opened fire on the two officers, killing them. Two more CHP officers arrived, James Pence and George Alleyn. They engaged the suspects in a shootout but were also ultimately shot and killed. A nearby citizen, Gary Kness, Marine and bad-ass hero, attempted to assist by grabbing a fallen officer’s weapon and returning fire but he eventually ran out of ammunition and was forced to hide in a ditch. Eventually a third officer arrived on scene and the suspects fled.

One of the suspects, Bobby Davis was located later and arrested. Twinings, however, was able to elude capture until he broke into a home and took the homeowner hostage. LA Sheriff’s Department was able to negotiate the release of the hostage. Twinings subsequently killed himself. Davis was sentenced to death, but California is California, and his sentence was commuted to life in prison. He killed himself in 2009.

Several procedural changes arose from the incident. The officers had trained with .38 caliber rounds while they carried .357. The difference in recoil was substantial. There was also argument that speed-loaders would have assisted the officers in getting back in the fight quicker. Standardization of weapons and ammunition among officers became more prominent.  Speed-loaders were soon approved and issued. New procedures for arresting high risk individuals also came about. Bullet-proof vests, not being standard issue at the time, were not worn by the responding officers. 3 of the 4 officers died from wounds that would’ve likely been prevented with effective body armor.

 

Officer Walter C Frago, 23 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/5056-officer-walter-c-frago

Officer Roger D Gore, 23 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/5590-officer-roger-d-gore

Officer James E Pence, 24 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/10509-officer-james-e-pence-jr

Officer George M Alleyn, 24 years old.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/1153-officer-george-m-alleyn

All four had less than 2 years on the job. All told, 4 widows and seven children laid their heroes to rest.

These 4 men did not die in vain. The lessons learned from their deaths have saved countless officer’s lives in the last several decades.

Blood Upon The Shield, Author Unknown

When I was in my early teens, I remember seeing this poem on one of my Dad’s FOP magazines. I held onto it forever, and I’m sure it’s still around somewhere. The very last part always stood out to me. Jake is being laid to rest today and his procession will pass both the high school he attended and the elementary school his wife works at. There will be a lot of children with questions. Take the opportunity to tell them about Jake. Tell them about Brothers YOU knew. Let them know that although some of us may fall, there’s a whole heck of a lot more of us holding the line, protecting them.

“Blood Upon the Shield 

Blood Upon The Shield
Confrontation in an alley. The Centurion does not yield.
But this time the good guy loses;
there is blood upon the shield.

And the mournful sounds of bagpipes
play out across the land,
drowned out by the sobs of a lonely young wife
and a child too young to understand.

While the killer pleads his case in court,
the thin blue line is one man short.
And we’re one step closer to society’s fall;
another cop’s name is engraved on the wall.

Another state funeral, with an army in blue,
and we know it could’ve been me and it could’ve been you.
We all look ahead to what the future has in store,
front line troopers in a country that’s at war.

At war with itself and at war with its cops and we’re
out there every day ’cause the battle never stops.
It’s not the way it is on TV shows or like
we learned in school; no cool music in the background,
no playing by the “rules;”

We’re disillusioned warriors,
but for right we’ll always strive.
We just pray that at the end of our stress-filled day
we’ll get back home alive.

You stand out on the corner
ignoring the insults and the stares,
close to the point of believing that no one really cares,
when a six year-old boy walks over after watching
you for awhile, reaching out to shake your hand,
on his face a friendly smile.

To him you are a hero,
a protector of our land, and he wants
to learn about you,
as a cop and as a man.

And when he asks you why your badge is covered
by a black elastic band,
tell him about our Brother
A cop who made a stand.

Author Unknown 

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Norco, California, 1980, Firefight Friday

NorcoWe’ve all heard about the North Hollywood shootout in 1997. Have you ever heard about the Norco, California shootout in 1980?

In Norco, California, on May 9, 1980, FIVE bank robbers attempted a robbery of a Security Pacific Bank. Heavily armed with shotguns, handguns, an AR-15, an HK-91, an HK-93, and even IEDs, 4 men made entry on the bank, while one waited outside. Before it was over, 1 Deputy and 2 robbers would be dead. Nine officers were wounded, over 30 police cars were damaged, and a police helicopter had even taken fire.

Their plan started going wrong when an employee at a competing bank observed the robbers go in. She called the police immediately. Glyn Bolasky, a Deputy with Riverside County, arrived first. The lookout alerted the men inside and they exited and immediately started firing at Bolasky. He was able to put his vehicle in reverse and withdraw. He took cover and immediately returned fire. The robbers fled the scene in their van, but did not cease firing at Bolasky. Bolasky was able to fire a shot into the vehicle and strike the driver in the back of the head. The vehicle lost control and crashed. The robbers then had to proceed on foot. With over 200 rounds fired in Bolasky’s direction, his vehicle was struck 47 times. Bolasky was also shot multiple times in the face, shoulder, forearms, and elbow.

Two officers arrived on scene and while one engaged the shooter, the other successfully evacuated Bolasky. After commandeering another vehicle, the remaining 4 robbers engaged in a shootout with officers eventually damaging 33 cars and a helicopter with their small arms and their improvised explosive devices. Managing to get a significant distance from the officers, they stopped and established an ambush point on the road. Responding officers were only armed with .38 revolvers and 12 gauge shotguns, the standard loadout for officers of the time. Prior to the attack, Riverside Deputy James Evans radioed to other officers that he sensed an impending ambush. Evans, a Green Beret Veteran of the Vietnam War, did what he could with what he had. He attempted to engage the suspects with his revolver at a distance of over 50 yards. After reloading, and exposing himself to continue firing, he was shot through the eye with a rifle and died instantly.

Not until San Bernardino Deputy DJ McCarty brought an AR-15 to the fight did the suspects disengage and flee the scene. They fled into the woods and were captured the next day. One of the remaining 4 was killed in another shootout before capture.

The remaining 3 were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

A few lessons learned from this incident still affect law enforcement today. After the ammunition limitations of the 6-shot revolver proved to be a problem, many agencies in the area began the transition to semi-automatic 9mm and .40 caliber handguns. The limitations of the shotgun brought about the issuance of Ruger Mini-14’s and AR-15/M16’s to patrol officers. Even the helicopter that received small arms fire during the incident brought about additional training for air units. In recent years, this training was even used by San Bernardino deputies to bring a pursuit to a close by providing effective fire from the air.

Does your agency issue rifles? Rifle rated armor? If not, do you supply your own? What do you think still needs to be done to prepare for incidents like this?

In an effort to better organize and provide my blog some direction, I’ll be using Fridays to detail some of law enforcement’s most significant shoot-outs. Any suggestions for lesser known incidents?

I sourced Wikipedia and a Massad Ayoob article for some of these details.

 

Officer Gail Cobb, Memorial Monday

Standing just 5 feet tall, Gail Cobb was only 24 when she was killed in the line of duty while working for the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. A single mom, she surprised everyone when she applied to be a police officer. Her father was a correctional officer and her mother was a crossing guard. Gail could only apply after minimum height standards were lowered. Although she was small, she was described as hard-working and well liked. She was one of 13 females in her 34 member academy class.

Officer Cobb was the first female police officer to be shot and killed while patrolling in the line of duty in the United States. On September 20, 1974, Cobb was just 6 months into her probationary period. Plainclothes officers had thwarted a bank robbery but the suspects had fled. Shortly after, Cobb was alerted to the location of an armed man in a garage. She courageously responded and located him inside. She ordered him to place his hands against a wall but as she reached for her radio, the suspect turned and fired his weapon. The bullet went through her wrist, destroying a wrist watch she had received from her mother, through her police radio, and then into her heart. She died at the scene. Both suspects were eventually apprehended.

Cobb was not buried in uniform. Instead she was buried in a green dress with styled hair, dolled up makeup and gold hoop earrings. Forbidden by uniform regulations, these special touches allowed her to be buried with a personal flair.

May we take a moment to remember Officer Gail Cobb, the family she left behind, and the legacy she leaves for us to carry on.

“Huh?” My Cop Life with Hearing Loss

I’m a cop with a “disability.” Shortly after I was born, I suffered a reaction to medication that affected the nerves around my ears. I have significant hearing loss, and because of that, I have had my career opportunities limited. At 17 years old, I stood in a Marine Corp recruiting office with my parents blessing, ready to sign my life away. I was determined to make a career out of the Marines. I had my eyes set on boot camp in 2003 and I was specifically requesting a job that would get me into combat. There was nothing else in the world I wanted more. And then I went to MEPS and sat in an old booth with headphones so tight, if I didn’t have tinnitus, my ears would’ve been ringing from the pressure. I guess I missed a few beeps and they kicked me out. Attempts at waivers never quite panned out and eventually the recruiter told me the options were exhausted. I was crushed. My hearing loss was less profound then and I thought I heard everything just fine. I’d performed fine in school. I held conversations just fine. Plan B was community college.

Fast forward to 2016, and holy shit, I knew I was missing a ton. I’d spent years progressively saying “huh?” more and more. I noticed I was dialing up the TV and radio more and more. I was missing whispers on perimeters in the dark. I knew it was a problem. I was terrified to take steps to correct it. I was worried the stigma would end my career in law enforcement. I didn’t know any cops with them. I looked at prices for corrective surgery. I couldn’t afford the $30k per ear or the 6 month recovery. I looked at hearing aid prices. I couldn’t afford that either. My insurance barely touched them. Frankly, I was scared.

In 2017, I finally bit the bullet. I called an audiologist. I had not been to one since college. I tried to join the Army after a few years in college. Same result. That last audiogram was enough to keep me out. I was afraid to see the new results. I even found myself hoping that maybe I just had a blockage in my ear. Maybe it was a tumor or a big ball of wax. I wanted it to be something that could be fixed immediately. Turns out my ears were bad. It wasn’t a quick fix. Or was it? The audiologist told me what she charges and I walked out and never looked back. Then I found an opportunity that literally changed my life.

Did you know that Costco, in addition to being one of my favorite places to shop, has optometrists, pharmacists, and EVEN AUDIOLOGISTS on staff? I had visited the hearing center a few times and picked up brochures every time, but I was still nervous. I called and scheduled an appointment about two weeks out. I went in, got a FREE hearing test, and then the sweet audiologist let me put tester hearing aids in. Holy smokes, I almost cried. I could hear a watch ticking, I could hear my hair brush against my collar, I could hear the hand dryer in the bathroom two hundred feet away behind a closed door. AND IT WAS LOUD! She let me try a few, but I knew what I wanted. I had 4 copies of the brochure in my truck.

Today I wear a ReSound Hearing Aid on each ear. I was able to afford them through generous contributions to my HSA from my employer. It took a few days to get my pair ordered and in stock. But when they arrived, I walked out wearing them after a brief fitting and adjustment. They have replaceable batteries, last a few days, and Costco even sells the batteries cheap! I barely feel them anymore and find myself reaching up to double check they’re in. I’ve even accidentally gotten into a shower a time or two forgetting about them. You know what the coolest part is? They’re Bluetooth capable. I stream music, video games, podcasts, EVEN MY PHONE CALLS directly into my ears! All I do is answer the phone and keep the handset close by. It sits in a cradle in my car and people hear my just fine when I talk in a normal volume. They require minimal maintenance and I drop them in a small desktop dryer every night. I clean them briefly every morning.

Neither ReSound nor Costco paid for or requested I sing their praises. They probably won’t even read this post. I wrote it because they changed my life. They saved my life. I can hear my kid laugh at full volume. I hear birds in the morning. I can watch TV after the fiancé goes to bed without her wrapping a pillow around her ears. I can still take them out and turn them off and sit enjoying a quiet peace that those without hearing loss may never experience. I work every day now confident in my ability to hear my fellow officers. I can sit through trainings and learn from the instructor rather than reading the materials. I’ll say it again, ReSound hearing aids saved my career and forever changed my life.

If you are reading this and you think you may have hearing loss, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about hearing aids. I’m by no means an expert, but I know what you’re going through. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call a Costco hearing center. They’ll bend over backwards for you, and all you’ll pay for is the hearing aids and the batteries. They were wonderful.

I’m a cop who technically has a “disability,” but after accepting it, addressing it, and moving past it, I wish I’d done it a long time ago. Don’t waste time getting the full enjoyment out of life.

The picture attached are the ones I have. Mine are a slate gray. I swear they’re smaller than they look and I don’t feel them at all any more!

Resound Hearing Aids