Lt. Chris Sayers, who retired last week after 29 years with the Anaheim PD, has enjoyed assignments as diverse and challenging as accident investigator. D.A.R.E. officer, and motorcycle enforcement officer.
One incident involving a speeding motorist stands out for him as an example of how police officers often make a positive difference in someone’s life – usually out of the spotlight.
A motorcycle cop at the time, Sayers pulled over a woman who was speeding on Brookhurst Street. As he walked back to his motorcycle to write a citation, he heard the woman softly say: “Go ahead and write me a ticket. I’m going to kill myself anyway.”
Sayers turned around, asked her to step out of the car, and they spent 45 minutes talking on the sidewalk – he mostly listening.
The woman recently had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. She had been hurrying to return some X-rays to her doctor so she could leave town the next day to Florida with her daughter. She was hoping to spend what little time she had with her. Now she was about to end it all over a speeding ticket.
She was afraid the ticket would get her in trouble if she failed to return the X-rays, and that her departure would be delayed.
“I know everyone thinks ‘motors’ are heartless, but this was one ticket that did not need to be written,” Sayers said.
Two months later, he got a thank you card from the woman. She was enjoying every moment she had with her daughter.
“She believed it all started with a stop for speeding,” Sayers said. “That day, I knew I had made a difference in someone’s life.”
Sayers also had a chance to make a difference as a D.A.R.E. officer working with kids in Anaheim schools, and as director of the Anaheim Family Justice Center, which offers services to victims of family violence. He says both provided deep personal satisfaction.
When he started on the force almost three decades ago, police work was vastly different.
“We weren’t worried about building relationships with the community or problem solving,” Sayers says. “We were too busy ‘fighting crime.’”
Times have changed.
Technology advancements since 1981 have drastically improved the way police departments share information and the accessibility of that information to the officers in the street. Forensic evidence such as DNA is locking away very violent and dangerous criminals who otherwise still may be roaming free.
And the Anaheim PD has become a huge player in the community, collaborating with businesses and residential neighborhoods to prevent problems – and not just “fighting crime.”
Sayers soon will be heading to the Happiest Place on Earth, managing the security personnel that work inside of Disneyland. He also will continue to volunteer in his community’s youth soccer program as a board member, coach instructor and referee.
He has lots of memories of his Anaheim PD career to draw on.
During his time in the department, Sayers crashed his motorcycle and was injured, and he mourned the deaths of Officer Bob Roulston, killed on duty, and officer Rich Harrington.
Through it all, it was the people at Anaheim PD that made a difference, he says.
“What stands out the most are the people I have had the honor and pleasure to serve with,” he says. “I am not only proud of what I did, but of where I did it with and with whom.
“These amazing people have done a great job of keeping our community safe. They have encountered many different obstacles along the way but just kept moving forward, striving to make a difference every day.
“I am as proud of my chosen profession today as I was the first day I put my uniform and badge on.”