Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hanging up their holsters; Pair of Suisun officers looking to retirement

From Vacaville Reporter // Aug. 27, 2005

Kimberly K. Fu/Staff Writer

Exotic locales and ample family time are in store for Bill Smothers and Doug Riddick, both Suisun City police veterans who hang up their dress blues in about a week and meld into retirement.

The pair, who together have more than 50 years of policing experience, will say their final farewells on Friday. Following that, Smothers heads to Europe and Riddick to Hawaii on much-anticipated vacations.

"They deserve a long and healthy retirement," Chief Ron Forsythe said. "They've both been mentors to a lot of officers, role models ... They've touched a lot of lives in this community and they'll be sorely missed."

Smothers, a master officer, began his career in 1978 as a reserve officer with the Solano County Sheriff's Office. He signed on with the Lovelock Police Department in Nevada in 1979 and, in 1981, joined the Suisun City force.

"The camaraderie was very, very strong," he said. "It was very close-knit, more like a family."

During his tenure, Smothers worked in Investigations and Boat Patrol, was a field training officer, property and evidence room custodian, member of the SWAT team's entry unit and the first Suisun officer assigned to the Solano County Narcotic Enforcement Team.

Smothers reveled in his narcotic work, said Dixon police Lt. Tony Welch, and also excelled at it.

"He liked to catch the bad guys," said Welch, a former Suisun lieutenant. "If you wanted to find Bill, he was where the bad guys were. He enjoyed his job."

Former Sgt. Kurtis Cardwell agreed.

"Bill was legendary for knowing all the area dopers, and Suisun had a lot of those in the early '80s," said Cardwell, now an investigator with the District Attorney's Office. "His MO was to rapidly approach a suspected tweaker you may have stopped, and say to them, 'When was the last time you slammed?' as he inspected their forearms. I was so impressed as a rookie that they would always tell him. Tweakers would always walk up to your parked car and say, 'Do you know Bill Smothers?' It was constant and hilarious. They loved him."

For his service, Smothers was honored with numerous awards including the Hazardous Action Medal, Distinguished Action Medal with three devices, Distinguished Service Medal, Achievement Medal, Life Saving Medal with one device and the Chief's Medal.

Riddick's career was also colorful. A longtime retail employee, he swapped his grocery store uniform for police duds in 1977 and never looked back.

"The lights, the sirens, the action. That was much more appealing than stacking cans on a shelf," emphasized the master sergeant.

In 1982, he moved from reserve officer to full-time officer. In 1990, he was promoted to sergeant. During his tenure, he served on the SWAT team and as its leader, worked in Investigations and Boat Patrol, was an administrative sergeant, and member and supervisor of the Major Crimes Unit. He was also the first supervisor of the Code Enforcement Division and considered instrumental in leading the unit through its infancy.

Riddick's favorite assignment, though, was Investigations.

"You got to work a case through to the end, hopefully have a positive outcome and the suspect's in jail," he explained.

Cardwell remembered training under Riddick, who taught him the ropes, so to speak.

"The first ticket I ever wrote was with Doug. He instructed me to pull a car over for not having a gas cap," he recalled. "I did not even know that was against the law. I did the stop and completed the citation, which is a fix-it ticket!"

Detective Steve Howisey expressed admiration for Riddick's people skills, making them feel comfortable regardless of the situation.

"Even when you screwed up, he didn't have to chew you out to get his point across," Howisey said. "He left you with some dignity intact."

Riddick's work was also recognized with honors, including the Distinguished Service Medal with one device, the Medal of Achievement, the Distinguished Action Medal with one device and the Chief's Medal.

Both veterans say they will miss the camaraderie with the community and other police staffers, as well as the adrenaline of the job. But after a lengthy term of service, each felt it was time to move on and spend more time with family.

Smothers has plans to golf more.

"I like the game. I just hope I can learn to play better," he joked.

And Riddick hopes to break in his new Fifth Wheel travel trailer and go fishing.

"I'm just looking forward to spending time with my wife and grandkids, just enjoying my family," he said.

Kimberly K. Fu can be reached at

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