Attention to Details
By Craig Ritz.
One of the first thoughts I had of Mark Riddering was when I first started here at the Santa Maria Police Department. I remember Mark being out on patrol on day watch. As soon as he went in service, there would be about a five or ten minute delay before he had stopped someone. Another two or three minutes would pass when Mark said over the radio, “10-19 with a 10-15, 11550″. Translation: Returning to the station with a prisoner that is under the influence. This happened ALL day long. Many questions were running through my mind. What was he seeing, how was he doing that, is everybody on drugs? Mark began to show me his “style” and I slowly began to understand, and learn how to perform under the influence exams. During this time Mark was on the “hot plate” or “under the microscope” of the public defender’s office. They were challenging all of his exams, stops, consensual encounters…everything! Several of his cases went to jury trial! I remember Mark having stacks of legal books on the subject of under the influence of controlled substances that he took with him to educate the District Attorneys Office. Many of us youngsters were scared to even arrest a person on drugs for fear of ending up in jury trial.
On one case, Mark requested my expert assistance (I towed the suspects vehicle). It had been raining, and as usual Mark asked me to complete the tow report. Then he left without saying anything else. I knew he wanted to return to the station, do the exam, book his suspect and get back in the streets. I completed the tow and went about my business. Well, several months later Mark came to me and thanked me for towing that vehicle. I was confused but Mark explained. Apparently the defendant had contested the stop of his vehicle, saying that Mark had falsified his stop and basically “Fabricated his probable cause”. Mark had written in his arrest report that he had stopped the vehicle for having bald tires. Well this was the core of the public defenders argument, that Mark Riddering was a liar and falsified his reports to make an arrest. I guess the case was set for trial until Mark looked at the tow report I had completed and under the condition of vehicle tires I had written, “Bald / Poor”. The defendant pled and I will always remember Mark thanking me for paying attention to details.