By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD
In May 1956, I graduated from the Los Angeles Police Academy along with 33 fellow recruits. Some of the lucky ones went straight to patrol, some went to P.I.C. (pedestrian intersection control). White hat, white gloves, directing traffic in downtown LA, smog and all (ugh) and the rest of us went to the main jail. Now, this was nothing like the large county jail. This was almost a non-jail jail for misdemeanor prisoners only awaiting court. Everyone was moved quickly through. Prisoners from all over LA.
And here was I. Late one night talking to a classmate also working there who told me he wanted to get married but his girlfriend was concerned about his safety. She worried that as a police officer he might get shot. With all the wisdom that comes with being twenty-one years old and having two to three months on the job, I told my friend, Ramon Espinoza, “Come on, Ray. Be logical. With all the thousands of cops on the job, what are your chances of even being shot at no less wounded or killed?”
This was in the summer of 1956, he later married the girl and had a son Ramon Jr. We both managed to get transferred out and by June 20, 1958, I was working vice and Ray was in a radio car in Wilshire Division working nights. His partner was a 24-year-old officer named Tom Scebbi, a good friend of mine. We had lunch at the academy the day before.
On that night they stopped a pedestrian at 3rd and Kingsley who just happened to be an ex-con carrying a stolen pistol. With which he shot both officers. Tom was killed instantly and Ray was shot in the stomach. This being long before
body armor. Ray still managed to shoot and wound the gunman who was arrested hiding nearby. He was later executed on May 13, 1960.
They did things differently then, I have replayed that late night jail conversation over and over in my mind. Ray retired with his wounds and both received the medal of valor. I just read recently where Ray Jr. retired from the LAPD. He carried his father’s badge while on the job.
Something else I think about in the wee hours of the morning. Tom Scebbi will always be 24.