The Big Picture
In the early 90’s, while working as a Field Training
Officer for the Visalia Police Department, I was assigned a newbie by the name of Ryan Bernasconi. The young man came with
a reputation of cockiness and I was assigned to train him and put a leash on the cocky attitude.
I remember his first
night of training with me. Much of the early evening was spent orientating Ryan on endless amounts of policy and procedure.
Various calls for service were handled but nothing to brag about.
As we approached the late evening, we were called to
a fight outside an apartment complex just off of Demaree and 198.
We landed and found a group of men trying to control
an obvious drunk who was creating the majority of the problem. Ryan obtained the necessary info and determined that the group
of men were from out of town and had crashed a party in our fine city. I asked Ryan what he thought his course of action should
be. He told me we should arrest the drunk and break up the party.
I told Ryan not to lose sight of "The Big Picture"
and that we were approaching prime mayhem time and we didn’t want to be stuck in booking with a drunk when the blood
started to flow. I suggested we have the group from out of town load their drunken friend in their car and leave our fine
city for the night. All parties agreed this would be carried out and we cleared the call.
We got to the corner of 198
and Demaree and while stopped to turn right, the car load of out-of-towners stopped to our left. The drunk we had just given
a break was in the front passenger side of the car. The drunk pulled his upper body out of the passenger window area and leaned
towards our patrol car, flipping us the biggest bird possible and yelled words that just darn-right hurt my feelings. I jumped
out of my passenger side door and was on this guy in half a second. I pulled the drunk through the window and gently placed
him on the hood of our patrol car. In a split second, he was handcuffed and placed in the rear of our patrol car. The others
in the car decided it was time to leave our fine city.
Once I was in the patrol car I told Ryan to head to the jail.
Ryan, somewhat in shock, said he felt like we just pulled off a kidnapping and then with a smirk, he uttered the words “so
much for The Big Picture”.
We laughed all the way to jail and thus the beginning of a lengthy and meaningful friendship.
On May 9, 2006, we lost Ryan from complications of cancer.
Ryan Bernasconi, Rest In Peace
I will always
miss you my Brother.
Ryan doing what he loved.
Rudy Vargas Illustration