Just before midnight on June 23, Inglewood Police Department Motor Officer “Fred” Small was eastbound on the 60 Freeway in Los Angeles County. Unexpectedly, a 16-year old girl traveling in the same direction, two lanes away, lost control of her vehicle, collided with a vehicle in the lane next to her, sending both vehicles crashing into Smalls’ police motorcycle.
Officer Small sustained major injuries, was transported to the Pomona Valley Hospital, where he died a short time later. One of the two men in the second car sustained minor, non-life threatening injuries. The 16-year old driver of the car that had caused the accident and her passenger were uninjured.
“Fred” Small was only the third Inglewood police officer to die in the line of duty in the long, ninety-five year history of the Department.
39-year-old Inglewood P.D. Officer “Fred” Small was laid to rest July 1 at the Manchester Gardens Mausoleum in the Inglewood Park Cemetery. Memorial services preceding internment held at the Crenshaw Christian Center was attended by several hundred peace officers representing jurisdictions statewide. He was eulogized as “a gentle giant of a man. An excellent police officer, a loving husband and father”. The state’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer, Attorney General Bill Lockyer was in attendance offering condolences on behalf of the people of California.
Inglewood Police Chief Ronald Banks remembered “Fred” Small as “a unique individual, fun-loving, with a host of friends”. “Fred” once joked that he wanted to be the Chief’s chauffeur, but if that was not available he would settle for being a motorcycle patrolman, as a second choice. The Chief expressed the sentiments of “Fred’s” fellow officers when he said “we will miss “Fred” dearly, and never forget his coming to the Department. “Fred” went too soon.
John Frederick Lee “Fred” Small was born and raised in Los Angeles. He was an outstanding high school athlete and won a football scholarship to the University of Washington. He was a stand out on great University of Washington football teams of 1981-84 and earned All-Pacific-10 Conference Honors in his senior season. He also played on the Huskies’ championship teams in the 1982 Rose Bowl and the 1985 Orange Bowl.
In 1985, following his four great years at the University of Washington, “Fred” was drafted to play in the National Football League by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was later traded and played three more years for the San Francisco Forty-niners and the Atlanta Falcons.
In 1989, California law enforcement had the good fortune to have “Fred” Small join its’ ranks. “Fred” served briefly with the Westminster Police Department and the Los Angeles Community College Police Departments before joining the Inglewood Police Department on May 25, 1998. He had found his niche as a motor officer.
“Fred” Small was only 39 years old and had served just five years in the job he truly loved when the tragic events of the night of June 23 took him from us and his beloved family. He leaves his wife Robin and his four young children, Jamal, Eliese, Jasmine and Jada.
A fund has been established to assist the small family. Donations can be sent to “Children of Fred Small Foundation”, C/O ICE at P.O. Box 6500, Inglewood, CA 90301.