Lest We Forget – Officer C. H. Crow – June 17, 1916
“Killed on Duty,” June 17, 1916
by James A. Bultema – Retired LAPD
At Parker Center stands the Departmentâ€™s monument to officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. It is a timeless granite tribute to the men and women who have given their lives in the line of duty. There are 193 names inscribed on the monument, but in this authorâ€™s opinion, there is one name not inscribed which should be; the name of Officer C. H. Crow.
In doing research for Lest We Forget, I came across the annual report of the Los Angeles Police Department to the Mayor, dated 1917. Inside, towards the back was a section labeled “Killed on Duty.” Under the headline were five names, one of which was that of Officer Crow. It reads:
“June 17, 1916, Patrolman Crow, detailed to duty in the Detective Bureau, in the investigation of a felony case, followed the suspects into a desert portion of Imperial County. Without water, and in the intense heat he suffered a sunstroke, but followed his man and arrested him.
The following day he died.”
This information led me to the one of the newspapers of the day, where I found one small article. The headline simply read: “Officer Follows Duties to Grave.” The story is more complicated.
A week earlier, there had been a theft of $1,000 worth of clothing from the store of Mr. Morris Cohen. Led by information provided by Mr. Cohen, Patrolman Crow and his partner, R. L. Shy, were told that there were two suspects who had fled to San Diego. Arriving in San Diego, the patrolmen (on loan to detectives) and Mr. Cohen, were told that the suspects were in Calexico, a very remote city located at the Mexican border in the Imperial Valley Desert, 90 miles east of San Diego.
With temperatures well over a hundred degrees, and according to the newspaper, reaching 135 degrees, the trio set off for Calexico. One must understand that in 1916 the roads were mostly dirt, with no civilization or amenities along the route. By the time they reached Calexico, Mr. Cohen was near collapse, and was immediatly sent back. Patrolman Crow was also extremely ill from the sun, but insisted to his partner that they should not give up.
After receiving information that the suspects had fled to Mexicali, Mexico but “were hovering” between the two cities, the officers staked out the border area. With temperatures again soaring, the two officers, ill-prepared for the extremes of the desert, suffered, but would not give up. Their patience paid off when the two suspects were seen crossing the border into the United States and were taken into custody.
Less than an hour after the arrest, and with the suspects in their custody, Patrolman Crow collapsed. His partner quickly drove him to the hospital in Calexico. When word reached the LAPD, Assistant Chief Home telegraphed that “no expense should be spared in fighting for the officerâ€™s life.” But, according to the physicians, there was little hope of his surviving even a few hours. Officer Crow died that same day from exposure to the elements after making the arrest of the two felony suspects.
Officer Crow was born in 1877 and was appointed to the LAPD August 17, 1907. For his final three years, he had been detailed to the detective bureau. He left a widow. Officer Crow is not listed in any LAPD list of officers killed. This author hopes to change that.