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Behind the Badge: Officer Rick Cromwell remembered 15 years later

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Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:00 am

Dec. 9 came and went without much fanfare, with most people focused on things like Christmas shopping, the 49ers, and the bitter cold. To a lot of folks it was a regular Monday.

But Dec. 9 will always be a significant date for the Lodi Police Department family. It was on that day 15 years ago that Officer Rick Cromwell was killed in the line of duty. He was riding his motorcycle down Kettleman Lane when a man drove into his path and they collided. Rick died at the scene.

It’s been a decade and a half since that day, but Rick’s memory is still with us. I think about him every time I drive past that spot in the road in front of Burger King on Kettleman Lane, where the collision occurred.

Rick was a family man, a mathematical genius, and a great barbecuer. “King Crom,” as Chief David Main used to call him, was a man of conviction with a dry sense of humor and a passion for riding motorcycles. He was also my classmate in Delta College Peace Officer Academy Class 7-87.

Members of the department visit his gravesite during Peace Officer Memorial Week each May. The picture on his gravestone is how he would like us to remember him. He is in full gear, riding his motorcycle as he leads a parade Downtown.

During the memorial week, we travel to the Stockton Police Department, where Rick’s name is engraved on the memorial near the front steps of their station. His name is read aloud as part of the honor roll of San Joaquin County law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty over the past 150 years. Rick’s name is also inscribed on the California memorial in Sacramento and the national memorial in Washington, D.C.

Our training officers bring brand new LPD officers out to Rick’s gravesite to quietly pay tribute to him and to remind them of the costs of being a police officer.

Rick’s helmet, gun belt, ticket book and boots sit in a display case the lobby of the police department reminding visitors of the price he paid.

All of these acknowledgements are appropriate, but the one that would mean a lot to “King Crom” would be for the citizens of Lodi to pause and remember him and the officers who are out there every day putting their lives on the line to keep our city safe. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and he’d enjoy the attention. He made the ultimate sacrifice for our community and it’s the least we can do.

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  • Ted Lauchland posted at 11:00 am on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 261

    Officer Cromwell was a man I respected. He pulled me over one time for going 30 in a 25 mile per hour zone next to a school. He did to remind me of that fact. I had apologized for doing so as I was not yet use to driving my dad's car that rode very smoothly not being fully aware of the speed. I was dealing with other things in regards to my dad at that time and I totally appreciated Mr. Cromwell not giving me a ticket at that point. He was not aware of any of it. To think of it now it is funny but also not funny that it occurred almost in the same spot as the recent tragedy . Wow.

    A man of integrity.

    I have talked to retired officers in the past about the new crop of law enforcement. They admit that experience can not be replaced with none other than experience. He was certainly one who had the peace officer aura about him that once he was gone was hard to replace. Lodi lost a good one.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:02 am on Thu, Dec 12, 2013.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2865

    I miss Rick. We were friends way back to the late 70's. We ran the sound equipment at Century Assembly, shared an apartment when we attended DeVry University in Phoenix, AZ. I was the best man at his wedding. I have many great memories of Rick.
    15 years since his passing. It doesn't seem possible.


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