Beloved Policemen of the Past

ave you ever wondered how people will remember you when you are gone? Your actions today and the way you touch people’s lives will determine how they will remember you many years later. People might say, “You see that man there, he used to be a great Karaoke singer.” Or others might say, “There goes Angel Cho, who used to beat his wife.” Or perhaps at your funeral the long line of friends will not fit into the church or the long list of fine things to be said will take ten minutes in your eulogy. But the point here is how do we remember the policemen of the past.

Police officer walks along the streets of San Pedro with island residents.
Our history books which nobody kept will tell us that the first police officer was appointed and assigned to San Pedro Village in 1950. Old timers remember two friendly policemen, Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Gomez, who spent their days making friends and idling because there was not much to do. Policemen back then were bored with the inactivity. Nobody really misbehaved. At the Ambergris Museum there used to be a record of Police Officer Henry who resided in the village from 1904 to 1907. That is 98 years ago.

In the 1950’s we recall Policeman Mr. Massam- a very serious, never smiling person who communicated very little. Then there are fond memories of P.C. Hope, who lived in his motor boat fishing all day long. He was perhaps the friendliest policeman ever. At about 1960 there was police officer Mr. Alpuche, who lived here for two years again making lots of friends, and his children even attended elementary school here to make lifetime friends. Officer Daly will also be remembered as a very caring and down to earth policeman.

Oh, how can we forget police officer Sambula, who promised he would fix all Sanpedranos. He was a big string man with a gold tooth, and he took dozens to court but won no case. He made the most enemies for his unfairness and nobody in San Pedro liked him. One day his rooster was stolen and hung on the electrical line right in the middle of front street, now Barrier Reef Drive. After that he asked for his transfer, but boy, is he remembered by folks in the early 1960’s.

P.C. Fuller spent most of his time at the pool tables, winning games and showing off his skills at the 8th ball game, but he was well liked in San Pedro. Oh, good Mr. Smitty, he smiled and laughed, but don’t get him angry. His daughter attended San Pedro High in the early 1970’s and learned so much Spanish that she passed her Spanish Royal Society of Arts Examinations from England. Once P.C. Smitty stopped a dance at about ten o’clock because a fight had broken out and he drove the crowd away with a pool stick. On another instance his jail was full, so he drew a circle on the ground and said, “This is my jail.” He locked three men in there until he could get them in the real cell. And don’t ask me why the men remained in there. Finally I recall Smitty, a good friend of mine running past my house after a guy had shot his girlfriend. He was running with rifle in hand and said, “Angel, it’s either his life of mine.” And Smitty lived many years after that. Talk about respect for an officer on duty.

Big man P.C. Ellis enjoyed life in San Pedro. His favorite words, “Hi my brother", and he spent a great deal of time making friends. Then there was officer Sutherland who got his stripes in San Pedro and moved from P.C. to Corporal. He too was cool, soft spoken and maybe a bit easy on lawbreakers. By the way, he is the only police officer who still lives in San Pedro, now in the construction business. Officer Ramirez was here but that is about all we can remember. Some officers left the island on transfer duty leaving behind large shop or liquor bills, but I can’t mention their names because of journalistic ethics.

P.C. Carcamo was here, and so were Sergeant Huellet, and Moses, and Assistant Superintendent Gutierrez, who was a good officer but perhaps did not get full cooperation from his men out here. Rudolph Orio was here and so was Sergeant Alvarez. Some are remembered for their courage and dedication, others for their friendliness. Some are mentioned only when we have to talk about unfairness, laziness, and when big-time bribes were involved. Some have chosen to do well, while others were incompetent by nature.

What will we be saying about our present officers, 25 years from now? It is entirely up to them. If they do a good job, they will be remembered affectionately for a long time. Otherwise their names will go into oblivion within 25 weeks. Twenty Five years Ago salutes all police officer who have served us in San Pedro. Good or bad, perhaps that was all their best, so thumbs up to the law enforcers.

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