Just prior to Fremont (Calif.) Police Det. Greg Gerhard's final line-up, he received a gift--still in its original wrapping paper--that was intended for him 17 years prior. (Photos Det. Bill Veteran)
FEATURED IN LEADERSHIP
On March 6, 1993, the owner of a local coin shop gallery in the City of Fremont, Calif., was murdered by two juvenile suspects who robbed him of more than $380,000 in merchandise. The suspects murdered the store owner to avoid being identified.
Fremont Police Det. Greg Gerhard was assigned as the primary investigator on the case. The victim was well known in the coin trade. Det. Gerhard immediately set out to notify other dealers of the incident and provide a detailed description of the loss.
The notifications paid off on April 13, 1993, when an alert coin shop owner in Las Vegas recognized coins belonging to the victim being offered up for sale by an accomplice of the juvenile suspects. Det. Gerhard and his partner Det. Will Cannon had this suspect taken into custody by Las Vegas Metro Police while they jumped on the next available flight to interview the suspect. This set in motion a series of events, coordinated by Det. Gerhard, which led to the identification and arrest of the two juvenile suspects during the evening hours of April 13. In addition, the majority of the loss was recovered at multiple search warrant locations and follow-up search sites conducted well into the next morning.
The investigation and prosecution of this case were exemplary and highlighted throughout various media sources. Many members of the Fremont Police Department worked on this case in addition to Det. Gerhard and should be congratulated for their outstanding work. However, it was the work of Det. Gerhard that captured the hearts of the victim’s family.
At the conclusion of the case, the victim’s wife reached out to Det. Gerhard to express the family’s extreme gratitude for all the work done by Det. Gerhard and other members of the department. As a sign of her gratitude, she attempted to give Det. Gerhard a gift on behalf of her family, but he respectfully declined acceptance due to the department policy on receiving gratuities. Det. Gerhard continued on with his career, investigating many more cases and promoting through the organization. As he approached his retirement date, plans were put into place for his “final line-up.”
The Fremont Police Department has a tradition of conducting final line-ups for department members leaving with a service retirement. Members of the department are standing in formation as the retiree is escorted via the motor unit to a staging point alongside the department. The retiree is greeted by the honor guard and saluted by the uniformed personnel. They are then escorted through the ranks and greeted by each member of the department before being given one final salute. The final line-up is a proud tradition of the organization.
Det. Gerhard’s final line-up was scheduled for Aug. 24, 2010, almost 17 years after the coin-shop murder. Now a lieutenant, he was just two hours away from addressing the department. He received a phone call from the victim’s son, who was now an adult. The son told Lt. Gerhard that he and his family were made aware that this would be he last day before retirement and asked if he could meet with him prior to the ceremony. Lt. Gerhard agreed and met with the son in the station lobby. The son proceeded to thank Lt. Gerhard for the job that he had done in capturing his father’s murderers and again expressed the family’s gratitude for all that he had done. The son then told Lt. Gerhard that his mother had sent along a package of “cookies.” He handed Lt. Gerhard a small box wrapped in red gift paper.
Lt. Gerhard immediately recognized that the package was not a box of cookies and asked the son about the package. The son admitted that the package didn’t contain cookies and said it was the gift that his mother had attempted to give to him 17 years ago. The package was still wrapped in the same gift paper and had been kept by the family all these years in the hopes of one day presenting it to Lt. Gerhard. They believed this was the appropriate time.
Lt. Gerhard took the gift and thanked the son. He then walked directly upstairs and gave the package to staff, again following the gratuity policy. Lt. Gerhard did not know what the package contained but suspected it may contain collectible baseball cards as the victim’s family was aware that Lt. Gerhard’s son was starting out in little league at the time of the case. Lt. Gerhard was visibly moved by the gift, but more so by the knowledge that the efforts of the Fremont Police Department so many years ago were still appreciated to this day. It was a fitting way for Lt. Gerhard to be remembered on his final day. Lt. Gerhard then quickly left in order to attend his final inspection.
The department felt it was only right that Lt. Gerhard be the one to open the package, so he was invited to attend the next weekly staff meeting. Lt. Gerhard agreed and appeared at the next meeting. He carefully opened the package to preserve the wrapping paper and found that it contained a complete set of Major League Baseball trading cards from the 1980s. The appraised value of the card set was not significant, but the value of the message was priceless. The department decided to accept the gift on behalf of Lt. Gerhard and place it in our historical cabinet as a reminder of the excellent police work and influence that Lt. Gerhard and other members of the organization displayed in 1993 and continue on to this day.
Congratulations to Ret. Lt. Gerhard, and thank you for the example you have left for all of us.