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Guest post-Police Reserves part 2

Almost a pursuit…

One night, we had gotten into a pursuit with a man driving a stolen motorcycle. Traffic was light and the suspect was flying down one of the main streets at a high rate of speed. He managed to make a sharp turn onto the freeway in an effort to evade us. I came into the same turn a tad too fast and had to brake hard; really hard or we were going to crash. The car skidded across a wheelchair ramp, across a sidewalk, across a dirt shoulder and came to a stop between a streetlight and traffic signal with about a foot to spare on either side. As the dust and tire smoke filtered past us, we realized that somehow, I had avoided doing any damage to the car nor had I hit anything. We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and Tim summed it up by saying, “Well, as they say in basketball, no harm no foul.” We got back on the road and resumed the pursuit. That’s the way we worked together.

As to the bad guy, though we were not able to apprehend this guy that because he dumped the motorcycle and fled on foot. About a year later we stopped him for a minor traffic violation and discover a warrant for his arrest; it was for evading a police officer.

Still, for all the good things that Tim and I accomplished together, there were still those elements in the department that felt a reserve officer should be assigned to take care of mundane tasks that many officers find tedious, such as operating our holding facility, booking prisoners and transporting them to county jail. Also, I felt there was an undercurrent of resentment at the successes Tim and I achieved working together. Usually, it was from officers with less than admirable work ethics or who were stuck in another less contemporary age of policing.

Officer Gerry Goldshine (in the pig hat) and Reserve Officer Tim Aboudara behind the wheel-Halloween sometime in the 1980's
Officer Gerry Goldshine (in the pig hat) and Reserve Officer Tim Aboudara behind the wheel-Halloween sometime in the 1980’s

Halloween Cruise

On one particular “Cruise Night”, it happened to be Halloween. Tim and I decided to both wear a hat that had a pig nose, tail and ears as a way of improving our image and rapport among the multitudes of young people, whom were most often the recipients of our numerous traffic citations. It did so beyond our best expectations. However, a very “traditional” minded sergeant felt otherwise when our attempt at bettering community relations was brought to his attention. We both received some “counseling” from him for crossing the line in decorum and demonstrating conduct unbecoming a police officer. There came the day that these negative elements all came together and someone in the upper echelons of management made the decision it would be better if Tim and I didn’t work together so much.

It was decided, Tim could be of better use working our “jail” (a temporary holding facility); after all, he was just a reserve. Eventually, common sense and less rigid minds prevailed and it wasn’t long before we were “allowed” to work together.

Aboudara assigned as emergency contact

As partners are wont to do, I designated Tim to be person to notify my wife should I be seriously hurt or killed in the line of duty; little did I know he would have to do exactly just that for me a few years later. Near the end of May in 1986, I was training a new officer and showing her how to use moving radar. An inexperienced teenage driver lost control of his vehicle while adjusting his car’s radio and slammed head-on into my side of the patrol car at over fifty miles an hour. Among my many injuries, I sustained serious head trauma and lost consciousness. I later learned that many of those officers who had responded to the scene had concerns as to whether I was going to survive. Someone called Tim, who then had to do a job no one would envy–notifying my wife. There is no hiding the nature of such a visit when fellow officer shows up at the front door unannounced, late at night. I could not have placed my family in more capable hands; my partner handled everything in an exemplary manner.
The end of reserves at PPD

The end of reserves at PPD

Despite Tim’s and the other reserve officers’ stellar record of service to the Department, in the 1990’s, those who looked down upon them began to prevail once more. This time liability fears, training and alleged financial constraints were the reasons given to gut the reserve program. To the best of my knowledge, no one in management had really made much of an effort to find solutions and keep it running. Stunned, Tim and a few other senior Reserve Officers were forced into “retirement”; they were given a hearty hand clasp, a nifty certificate and a handsome plaque. The younger Reserve Officers, still working toward their Level One status, were essentially told that their services were no longer needed. With a silent whimper, an important part of the department disappeared.

The invaluable role reserves played at PPD

Many a full time officer had got their start in the reserve program. The reserve program had been an excellent recruiting tool for full time service at a time when qualified prospects were few in number. Those that made the transition were better, more polished officers because of that experience. The program was a conduit to the community as to the workings of police department. It was a valuable source of extra manpower for special events. When the town was hit by a disastrous flood, it was the reserve officers who volunteered to help an overwhelmed patrol force, some coming in even while their own homes were at risk. When animal rights activists protested at a local beef processing facility, it was the reserve officers who manned the booking station in the event the situation turned nasty. When the Department began running DWI Checkpoints, it was the reserve officers who volunteered to assist with some of the more routine tasks.

Reserve programs in other jurisdictions

Though no longer a member of the Petaluma Police, I do know that they eventually began a volunteer Reserve Community Service Officer Program. It is my understanding that they assist in many administrative tasks, supplementing an overwhelmed civilian staff that has been pared to the bone by budget cuts. Whether they ever go back to having a Reserve Police Officer program in the future remains to be seen. The largest agency in California, the Los Angeles Police Department, has been running a reserve program for generations and now has over 650 active reserve officers. They are still one of many police agencies that still count on Reserve Officers. I suspect that when the need for supplemental man power in an era of shrinking budgets outweighs the liability fears having such a program, my old department might revisit such a notion.

A new day dawning for reserves

Shortly after I had written the prior paragraph, I received the monthly informational bulletin from my old department, which had recently hired a new Chief of Police. After several months of settling into the job and learning about some of the issues facing the Petaluma Police Department, Chief Patrick Williams has apparently begun to implement his vision as the direction the department should head. Among some of the new programs described in the bulletin was this; “For the first time since the early 1990’s, Petaluma Police Department will begin screening applicants for the position of Police Reserve.”

Gerry Goldshine

Born in Providence, Rhode Island but raised in Southern California.

Upon graduating California State University, Los Angeles, Gerry

enlisted in the Army and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.

After leaving active duty in 1979, he worked for the Sonoma County

Sheriff’s Office. From 1980 until his retirement in 1996, he was a patrol

officer, traffic officer and at Petaluma Police Department.

He’s married, has a daughter and lives in Sonoma County, California.


More Street Stories Writer's Notes

Just A Reserve? That’s My Partner!

Just A Reserve?

by Gerry Goldshine

You rarely read anything about them in the crime novels and mystery books. They don’t show up on any of the police television shows whether fictional ones like “CSI” or reality series like “Cops”. I am talking about a dedicated group of men and women who volunteer their time to train and work as police officers; the Police Reserves. In many departments, the Reserves are an integral part of the patrol force with their own chain of command, organized training and such. However, in other departments, Reserves are thought of as second class officers to be assigned those menial tasks that the “regular” officers find distasteful, such as booking, transporting prisoners, traffic duty and such.

My experience with reserves

This is about my experience with one particular reserve officer back in early 1980’s when I started with the Petaluma Police Department.

One of the things I learned early in my field training program was that the department regularly beefed up the patrol force numbers, most usually on the weekends when activity and calls for service were the busiest, with our Reserve Police Officers. Back then, we had three levels of reserve officers, each level based upon their training which then determined what duties they could perform. Level One Reserve Officers had to complete the same training as a regular police officer set forth by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). While they were capable of working alone, the number of patrol vehicles available would more often than not dictate that they would double up with a full time, “regular” officer. They were a great asset to the department but unfortunately there were those officers and sergeants that considered them to be something less than “real” police officers, treating them diffidently.

 Getting to know you…


Tim AboudaraRobert-66Petaluma PD
Tim Aboudara
Petaluma PD

I first got to know my eventual reserve partner, Tim Aboudara, while I was working the Graveyard Shift, shortly after completing my field training. I was just thrilled to be done with training and on my own. I say my own as we most usually worked with a single officer assigned to a beat and patrol car.

On this particular night, I had responded to a report of a disturbance outside one of the bars downtown. When I got there, I saw Tim trying to talk to an obviously inebriated man. The “gentleman” was loud, obnoxious and seemed on the verge of being combative. Tim had just told him, “You have until I count to three to go with your friends and leave or I’m taking you to jail for public intoxication.” 

As Tim started to count, the guy became even more verbally abusive and began to curse at him. My only thought was, “Hey, he can’t talk to one of our Reserve Officers like that.”  What can I say? I was new and fired up to make the streets safe for all the good citizens of Petaluma. By the time Tim had reached the count of “two”, I had seen and heard enough; I dashed in, handcuffed him and had him on the way to my car.

As he would later tell people, “Before I had reached the count of three, this short cop came out of nowhere, cuffed the drunk and had him in the back of his patrol car.”

To paraphrase the ending of the movie “Casablanca”, that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


It wasn’t long after that little introduction that we occasionally started to work together as car partners. Despite some of the disparaging remarks I had heard other “regular” officers make about the “Reserves”, I always found Tim, who had several more years of police experience than I did, eager and willing to share what he knew about police work. He was never condescending to me, the “rookie”, as were some of the more veteran officers. Though from differing backgrounds, our personalities meshed together like finely crafted Swiss watch gears. We really began to forge a bond as partners after I was assigned to be the Swing Shift Traffic Unit, regularly working together either Friday or Saturday night and sometimes both. I took it as a complement, that Tim would ask to work with me.

American Graffiti

Thanks to George Lucas filming major portions of his movie “American Graffiti” in Petaluma, our little hamlet became a major destination for “cruisers” throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Traffic would be bumper to bumper for several miles in both directions along the main boulevard that ran through the center of downtown and with it came all the inherent problems that come with youthful exuberance. In addition to the obvious traffic congestion, there was loud music blaring from cars, verbal and physical fights, traffic accidents, a host of vehicle code violations, possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages and less frequently, drugs.

In those early days, Tim and I would spend what quiet time we had early in the shift reviewing the vehicle code to develop an expertise in spotting hazardous violations that could lead to accidents. We also looked for those less obvious violations that would prove to be useful in keeping other problems from arising, such as impeding the flow of traffic or hang out the window of a car.

Streamlining the process

It wasn’t long before we worked nights where we sometimes wrote as many as fifty citations for serious moving violations and sometimes those not so serious. We also became proficient at detecting and apprehending drunk drivers. Working together, we found ways to streamline the process so that we could reduce our time off the streets. As I received more advanced training in traffic accident investigation and reconstruction, I passed it along to Tim as we worked collision cases together. When working major accidents, we again came up with ways to streamline those investigations, freeing up other officers, ourselves and traffic sooner. Many sergeants and officers came to consider Tim knowledgeable enough in traffic matters, that they would often assign him to work as the traffic unit on those nights he happened to work and I was on a day off.

The more we worked together, the more we came to know one and others mannerism, body language and officer safety tactics. I felt comfortable enough working with Tim whether I was driving or sitting in the passenger seat. We knew we had each other’s back regardless of the situation. It’s no exaggeration to say that we trusted each other with our lives. That is the nature of a really good police partnership. Still, I was often questioned by other officers if I was really comfortable trusting my safety to a “reserve”.

I was, without any reservations ever.

Part 2 will appear next Sunday evening. Join Gerry and Tim in the conclusion of “Just a Reserve” and see both light-hearted antics and life or death events they would go through together.  

Traffic Officer "T-36"Gerry GoldshinePetaluma PD
Traffic Officer “T-36”
Gerry Goldshine
Petaluma PD

Gerry Goldshine

Born in Providence, Rhode Island but raised in Southern California.

Upon graduating California State University, Los Angeles, Gerry enlisted

in the Army and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. After leaving

active duty in 1979, he worked for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

From 1980 until his retirement in 1996, he was a patrol officer, traffic officer

at Petaluma Police Department.

He’s married, has a daughter and lives in Sonoma County, California.

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