BULLHEAD CITY — When Dale Osborne rides off into the sunset this afternoon, he will be done riding.
Osborne, a motor officer in the traffic section, is leaving the Bullhead City Police Department after more than 32 years on the job, much of which he has spent mounted on a motorcycle.
Osborne joined the BCPD in 1986. He turned in his application at an old headquarters building at Marina Boulevard and Clearwater Drive. The department has moved twice since then — first to near Ramar Road and Highway 95, and later to the present headquarters at 1255 Marina Blvd. in the Bullhead City Administration Complex.
He has more tools at his disposal now; the officer who hit the streets with a pistol, a baton and a pair of handcuffs now also has a Taser and pepper spray.
Also gone are handwritten reports.
“Now, they’re all done on computers,” Osborne said. “And sometimes take twice as long.”
The city itself is different, as evidenced by the transformation of Highway 95 from a rural two-lane road to a busy thoroughfare.
Osborne said he was drawn to a career in law enforcement by the idea of helping people in the community.
He joined the Police Explorer program in his hometown of Bell Gardens, California, and joined the Vernon (California) Police Department after graduating from high school.
In 1984, he and his wife, Maria, moved to Parker, where he served in the police department.
“She thought that was a little too small,” Osborne recalled Tuesday.
In July of 1986, the couple moved to Bullhead City. Ten months after joining the department, Osborne graduated from motorcycle school. From the start of his career, Osborne said, he knew he wanted to be a motorcycle officer.
Defensive driving, he said, is always important for a police officer, especially one on two wheels. Osborne said he has faced plenty of close calls on the roads.
“People do unexpected things,” he said. “You have to pay attention. You can’t just follow the car in front of you — you have to be looking at everything else going on at all times.”
Over the years, Osborne has trained numerous other patrol officers, including preparing some for motorcycle school.
Sgt. Scott Gillman, Osborne’s supervisor since 2016, said he joined the traffic section in part because he wanted to work with Osborne.
“He’s somebody I trust,” Gillman said. “Somebody with a lot of experience.”
Gillman said he is happy to see Osborne reach retirement, but that his departure will leave a void in the department.
“We’re losing a very important person in the police department,” he said. “Somebody who put our traffic section in the very positive position it’s in now.”
Gillman said he’s particularly impressed by Osborne’s dedication to his duty, to the point of braving the various elements motorcycle officers face.
“It’s very easy to want to get off that motorcycle (in extreme heat or monsoon conditions),” Gillman said. “Dale was never that guy. You had to pry him off the motorcycle.”
Much of a traffic officer’s duty is investigating motor-vehicle accidents. Gillman said Osborne has trained many BCPD personnel in accident investigation, but is still the department’s go-to officer in a major wreck.
Osborne rides a take-home bike, the sergeant said, so that he can respond more quickly if there’s a middle-of-the-night call.
“He’s been called many times to respond to a serious crash or fatality,” Gillman said. “They require the (higher) level of expertise and training that Dale has.”
Another big part of the job is traffic stops. Osborne said he has seen more than a few surprises there, from passengers who become belligerent to a chase that led to him firing his service weapon.
In that incident, he said, he was responding to an early morning accident report and learned that the vehicle had been reported stolen. A brief chase followed, with the suspects trying to flee in the Rio Lomas area. They crashed the vehicle and ran up a wash.
Osborne said one of the two suspects reached as if for a weapon, prompting him to fire one round. The suspect then threw himself on the ground; the other was apprehended nearby.
There were a couple of pursuits that started with Osborne tailing the suspect vehicle. Department policy calls for motorcycle officers to drop back to a secondary position once a patrol car is involved, and to get out of the pursuit once a second car arrives.
Besides traffic and field-training, Osborne has been on the police SWAT and dive teams and served as a firearms instructor, among other duties. He said the people in the department and the variety of duties available make it a good place to work.
Police Chief Brian Williamson spoke of Osborne as an exemplary officer.
“Dale Osborne has been a fixture at the police department for a very long time,” Williamson said. “He has been involved in training many of the officers who are working here today. Dale emulates the values, ethics, compassion and professionalism that it takes to provide the community the type of law enforcement service that they deserve.”
Williamson himself was one of Osborne’s trainees when he joined the department.
Another was his son, former BCPD officer Steven Osborne. Dale Osborne said he was proud that Steven followed him into the profession, and enjoyed working alongside him, though the younger man didn’t bring it up right away.
“He was ready to be hired before I knew anything about it,” Dale Osborne said. “He did everything I’ve done, but in a shorter period of time.”
Osborne owns a house here and said he will maintain it, but that he and Maria will “travel and see some of the country that we’ve put off seeing.”
One item that’s not part of his post-retirement plan is cruising around on a two-wheeler. Osborne sold his personal motorcycle a while ago.
“I think I’ve done enough riding in my lifetime,” he said.
Williamson said Osborne, the BCPD’s 2009 police officer of the year, will take his gratitude wherever he goes.
“I am thankful for everything Dale has done for this community and department,” the chief said. “He will be missed, but has certainly left his mark.”