By Mark Riddering.
Oxnard PD was one fun place to work. Crack cocaine and heroin were rolling strong then and arrests were plentiful. The new officers being hired–whether you have years of experience or just graduated from the police academy–were assigned to the graveyard shift. Our sergeant was the infamous Bob Elder. A long time murder investigator supervisor in a city that knows murder. He was the perfect supervisor for real street cops.
Sgt. Elder partnered me up with a new officer, Bob Cox, to work the high crime area in Oxnard called Colonia. Bob Cox picked up very quickly how to identify drug users. We would go out each night and find a few to arrest. Around 3AM we’d take a break at an all night burrito place. Bob loved the Mexican drink ‘Orchata,’ made from rice waterâ€¦ so much that it made sense to nickname him “RiceWater.” Cops like to give cops names. One night RiceWater and I chased a crack dealer through a little ghetto neighborhood in the early morning hours. We followed him through the front door of a house and through the totally dark residence. We all ended up on the bed of the drug dealerâ€™s parents. What drama, what a mess–wrestling with mom, pop, and a crook in the dark on a bed.
Anyway, during my stay in Oxnard I was hit twice by drunk drivers while in a police car. One time the drunk driver tried to flee. After being broadsided my police carâ€™s fender was touching the roadway. The fender scraped along leaving a trail of sparks for a few blocks until the drunk driver crashed again.
A second accident occurred at a busy intersection. RiceWater was driving when the police car was rear-ended. A drunk driver hit us as we were stopped for a red light at a busy street. Our car was damaged greatly and we were pushed into a busy intersection narrowly missing several cars. RiceWater arrested the drunk driver after a little tussle. We both suffered some whiplash and went to the hospital briefly. As we sat in the hospital we hoped to go home and be able to sleep. However, much to our disappointment we received aspirin and a pat on the back and told to go back to the battlefield.
Upon returning to our beat slightly tweaked we found another drunk driver stuck, high centered, on the center divider. As we exited the driver of the car got out and started to run across the road to a nearby Colonia Park. RiceWater gave chase into the park. The sprinklers were on. I returned to the police car and hopped the curb. RiceWater had twisted his ankle and was hobbling. The drunk driver had a good lead. However, the car caught him and cut him off. A fight ensued. RiceWater even caught up and got into the action. Eventually we handcuffed this fleeing motorist. Now, RiceWater and our prisoner had injuries. The hospital ER personnel were surprised to see us back in less than an hour. While being treated our prisoner was accusing us of police abuse. RiceWater was leaving on crutches. As we all hobbled out of the ER the prisoner tried to accuse us once more of abuse. RiceWater gave the prisoner a push with his crutch and moved the prisoner to the police car with a crutch.
RiceWater has gone on to be a great cop and promoted in rank very respectfully. I’m honored to call him friend.