Recalling his eight years as Los Angeles’ chief of police, Daryl Gates counted 16 officers in that time “who have given their lives in the line of duty.”
“And every time one of us is killed,” said Gates, “the rest of us wear black bands around our badges. Well, I’m taking my black band off. I don’t need a black band to remember Arleigh and Ron.”
The names Gates was referring to, of course, are Detective Arleigh McCree and Officer Ronald Ball, the two members of the police bomb squad who were killed Saturday trying to defuse a pipe bomb in North Hollywood.
Gates was one of more than 3,000 people, including solemn representatives from virtually every police jurisdiction in Southern California, from around the nation and from the armed services gathered yesterday at the Scottish Rite Temple for a memorial service honoring the fallen policemen.
“I cannot remember when two deaths have stirred the department as deeply,” said Gates, who called McCree and Ball “heroes whose deaths have made us realize the awesome, awesome task of securing the peace in our communities.”
The 50-minute service, which opened with the playing of bagpipes, was led by Assistant Police Chief Robert Vernon, who read the 23rd Psalm and other portions of the Bible and then followed with what he called “the department’s official eulogies.”
In remembering McCree and Ball, both of whom were previous recipients of the department’s Medal of Valor, Vernon described McCree as “a calm, efficient, devoted, dedicated, unselfish professional.”
Vernon then quoted one of Ball’s previous commanding officers that said some years ago that in Ball’s case, “Outstanding is almost not enough for this copper.”
Jim Trahin, Ball’s former partner, used Ball’s nickname, “The Wizard,” to recall how expert he was in his chosen field of law enforcement, firearms and explosives.
“But more than that he was a compassionate and sentimental human being who was born 100 years too late,” said Trahin, who talked affectionately of Ball’s love “of his family, his home in Simi Valley, his western shirts and his cowboy boots.”
“Arleigh and Ron leave a legacy,” said Gates, “a legacy of devotion – to flag, community and nation. They are the kind of heroes that built America and made it strong.”
Interment was private, and at the request of both families, the police department’s Copper Creek Band played country and western music as the mourners filed out of the Scottish Rite Temple and into the rain.
Edith McCree eulogized her husband as a man who “made an indelible mark for all of us, and in doing so will never be gone from our lives.”
Besides his wife, McCree leaves a son, John, and a daughter, Kathleen McCree Downing.
Ball is survived by his wife, Ann, two daughters, Stacy and Tiffany Bardy, and a son, Scott.
Reprinted from The Los Angeles Herald Examiner
February 16, 1986