Pinole Police Department
This is a transcription of
a letter written by William H. Young the eldest son of Hugh Young September 17, 2010.Officer Lon Buck was the first Traffic Officer for Pinole,
as far back as I can remember in the early 1930’s. He was kind of a rent a cop. We lived in Walnut
Creek at that time and Officer Buck worked traffic 3 days a week in Walnut Creek and then worked Pinole traffic 3 more days.
Officer Buck rode a big 4 cylinder Indian motorcycle, and lived in Walnut Creek.
Gene Shea was the Pinole Constable, I don’t know from
when to when. The next Pinole Traffic Officer was Rex Clift and he rode a 1938 Harley Davidson. Young took
over from Rex Clift in September 1943 and served Pinole from then till 31 Dec 1967. Young bought the Harley
Davidson that Officer Clift had owned. If my memory serves me right, Mr. Clift resigned to accept the position
of Chief of Police in Fairfield.
Pinole’s first police car was a 1939 Studebaker Champion (our family car)
with emergency vehicle license plates and a red spot light and electric siren. Things were primitive in
1943 in little Pinole. Dad had no radio contacts. There was a grocery store on the corner
of Fernandez and old hwy 40. It was owned by Louie Ruff. Mr. Ruff also owned the Pinole
telephone system and it was so old that you had to hand crank the wall phone to get the operator in Ruff’s store.
The only contact Young had with the outside world (no radios) was to check in at Ruff’s store to see if the operator
had recorded any important messages from the C.H.P., Sheriff’s Office, or the Richmond PD. Young found, by trial and
error that he could detune a regular A.M. radio to receive police broadcast’s from Martinez.
Eventually the Pinole city Council purchased a worn out surplus
police car, 1958 Ford from the City of Richmond. Dad always bought his own motorcycles, which were Harley’s.
In Young’s 24 years of service to Pinole, he had only two accidents, with only one resulting in injury.
I have enclosed a newspaper clipping of that incident. The second incident, which did not result
in injury, is as follows: Traffic
Officer Young was in Pursuit of a speeding motorist, with siren screaming, it could take no more RPM’s and disintegrated
like shrapnel. Pieces of metal tore through his left boot, and rear fender and the metal and leather seat.
Young was not injured. The speeding car got away.
Back in the 1940’s, motorcycle siren’s were mechanical
and the operator pushed on a lever with his heel, which in turn actuated the siren with the impeller rubbing on the rear tire.
It turned many thousands of revolutions. Metal fatigue was proved to be responsible for the failure.
Dad used the 9-00 series
uniform radio code. Pinole Police Department eventually got two way radios. The call
letters for the car was: Contra Costa Unit #873 and the motorcycle was Contra Costa Unit #873M. When the
freeway, hwy 80 opened, traffic got slower in Pinole so dad had more time to patrol the streets of Pinole. He
was on call 24 hours 7 days a week.
There was a rumor for years that Young had a daughter who was killed as a pedestrian
in Pinole and that was why he was so tough on speeders, that was a false story as Young’s only daughter is alive and
well living in cottage Grove, Oregon.
Young handed out an average of 200 traffic tickets a month and Robert Ripley researched that and called Pinole the world’s
deadliest sped trap-and that was before radar. Young was a past master of the Pinole Masonic Lodge.
In the year 1966 he was declared Pinole’s outstanding “Citizen of the Year”. After
his retirement in 1967, he lived less than two years, dyeing from a heart attack. Chief Young’s legend
was that “He gave so much of his heart to others, that there wasn’t enough left for him”.
William H. Young (son) Eldest