Lost on Ventura Avenue.
By Randy Janes, Ventura PD (retired)
When I came to work at Ventura Police Department in 1989, Mark was a well-established legend within the Police Department and even more so with the “hype” community. Street drug users quivered in fear at the name “Riddering” because they had either been arrested by him for being under the influence of narcotics or were soon to be. I had already been a police officer with two other California law enforcement agencies at this point but had never seen an officer with quite the street reputation that Mark had. Every street hype knew “Riddering”!
As luck would have it, I got paired up working with Mark on day watch out in the Ventura Avenue area right after I got out of lateral entry training. It was quite an adventure to follow Mark around (literally) as I worked alongside him and came to know him. At least once a week I would get a call from dispatch saying they couldn’t reach Mark on the radio and asking me to go out and try and locate him. This was a new adventure to me as in 18 years of prior law enforcement experience I had rarely been tasked with this assignment. (Are you kidding me? A lost officer?!)
Quickly I learned that the first place to begin looking for Mark was in the “Project-area” of Ventura Avenue because he would usually be out of his car on foot, “hype hunting”. He’d typically turn down (or off?) his portable radio so as not to be heard by his prey which created the dilemma that the dispatcher couldn’t locate him either. Usually I would arrive at the Projects, find Mark’s unoccupied black and white parked somewhere inconspicuous and so would begin the search. On a good day I got where I could typically find Mark within 10 minutes or so jamming up some poor unsuspecting hype.
I was never much of a dope cop when it came to detecting people who were under the influence but thanks to Mark my skills improved dramatically. Mark was always willing to share his skills and expertise with anyone who wanted to learn.
Hey Mark, thanks for the good times of the Avenue. It was never quite as much fun out there after you left to go to Oxnard PD. Blessings Brother – I hope you enjoyed the adventure too! – Randy Janes, Ventura PD (retired)
PS – Unfortunately, there are a lot of Ventura County hypes who sleep better at night (or whenever hypes sleep) because “Riddering” is no longer on the streets of Ventura or Oxnard!