Monday, February 12, 2007


My friend Roger “Ruggero” Princevalle, a member in good standing with the International Police Association (IPA) recently made the following announcement:

For the 'first time' in the San Jose area, noted author Ivano Franco Comelli will be giving a presentation about his book (La Nostra Costa) at the International Police Association Brunch on Sunday, February 25, 2007, at 10:30 a.m. Also, Ivano is donating one of his signed books to be included in a raffle along with other assorted and wondrous items.The brunch will be held at The Drying Shed, 402 Toyon Avenue, San Jose, 408-272-1512. (Directions: Hwy 680 to east on McKee Rd. -- then left on Toyon Ave. The restaurant is located just before the San Jose Country Club.)

Roger is correct. This is a first. And although San Jose is not part of Santa Cruz’s North Coast, it certainly is a part of the “La Nostra Costa” story. In1959, I joined the San Jose Police Department. I worked in San Jose as a police officer for the next thirty (30) years. In fact, the location of “The Drying Shed” on Toyon is not too far from where I and my friend Police Officer Richard Huerta (LNC: p. 331-333) used to Patrol in tandem.

Basically, my Beat (B-14) was east of Hwy 101, south of Mckee Road and North of Story Road. Richard with his dog Schatz patrolled east of Hwy 101 and south of Story Road (B-17). We would cover for each other when responding to calls or on car stops. In fact, that was how I first met Richard, “filling” with him on a car stop. We became fast friends and at one time even roomed together.

As I mentioned above, Richard’s car partner was Schatz a big burly German Shepard Dog. Off duty Schatz was the friendliest “pooch” you would ever want to meet. He loved to play with kids. However, once in back of the police car (Canine Officers patrolled in station wagons) Schatz became very territorial. If anyone approached the police vehicle from the rear, he would immediately become agitated. With teeth bared he would bark and “snap” at the approaching figure.

I must confess, that this annoyed me to no end. You see Schatz didn’t discriminate between friend and foe. Every time I would “fill” with Richard on a car stop, Schatz (although he had seen me many times, both in and out of uniform) would start barking and “snapping” at me. Richard would have to come back to the rear of the car to calm the dog down.

Being upset at Schatz’s behavior, I would swear a blue streak at the agitated dog. Then I would yell at Rich to train his “blank-blank” dog not to alert on the Uniform. Otherwise, I would take matters into my own hands. (Sure, I would.) Well, Rich never broke Schatz of his (bad) habit. I had to satisfy myself by thinking up different ways to approach Rich’s vehicle to avoid alerting Schatz. None worked. Schatz always saw me coming and he never failed to give me a robust welcome. In return, I would reciprocate by verbally assaulting Schatz with a “glossary” of new swear words.

Eventually Rich and Schatz parted company, and Rich patrolled the eastside without his canine partner. (By this time I was promoted to Sergeant and the tandem of Comelli and Huerta was no more.)

Several years later, on the evening of August 6, 1970, Officer Richard Eugene Huerta, while on a car stop, was shot and killed. Ironically, the killer approached the police car from the rear and shot Richard in back of the head as he was writing a citation to a third party (not involved in the killing.)

I always believed that if Schatz had been in the police car that terrible night the killer would never have gotten close enough to kill Richard.


Hi Ivan,
Just read your blog on Rich's K9 Schatz. Schatz finished his career with Noel Lanstot & upon retiring remained with Noel's family. I spoke with Noel after that terrible night of Aug 6th. He mentioned that Schatz had passed away suddenly on Aug 7, 1970. He was pretty old & nearing the end but I've often thought about coincidence of Schatz's passing so close to Richard's. The bond between an Officer & his dog is extremely strong. (The)Greek
Terry Moudakas


Ivan comelli (SJPD Capt. Retired.) said...

Terry: Thanks for the info on Schatz. I did not know that Schatz passed away the following night. This is indeed noteworthy. I will post your e-mail on the BLOG right under the article. I hope you don't mind. Yes, I am planning to be at the next PBA meeting. Also, if you are an IPA member try to make their meeting on Sunday 25. I plan to use the Schatz story and your added info in my presentation. Thanks again for going to the "BLAGGA". Information such as yours is exactly what I wanted to obtain from "Blagga Fans". Your "Old Boss" Ivan.

ivan said...

LNC: I received this e-mail from Charlie King a retired San Jose Police Dispatcher and Reserve Officer.

"Aloha Ivan, I remember Shatz. I am in constant reminder of Rich. I know that you guys were close but we had a special relationship over the radio. His request for code 7 was always a challenge for my creative and a fresh reply. Following your retirement and your background and book writing skills has added another dimension to our aging naustalgic memories. I remember the time that you, Bill Brown gave me the oral for the Captains rank in the Reserves. When I told people about the panel. Their reply was "and you passed".

We've been living in Hawaii most of the year for the past decade or so but that is changing soon. Hope to catch up with one of these days.


Charlie King

LNC: Good to hear from you Charlie: I was wondering what happened to you after your Radio Days.
Yes, I remember the interview. At the time I remember thinking, "Here's my chance to get back at Charlie for all those bum calls he sent on." However, you were too good, and I had to pass you with flying colors. Those were the days. Ed, you and Harness (sp?) with Sgt.Canuel on the Desk. Couldn't miss with a team like that.

Your e-mail reminded me of the special code Rich and I had for 10-87s (get togethers at the various coffee shops on the beat). One of us would radio car to car: B-17, B-14... 1087. The other would respond B-17, 10-4... ETA 2. The number (2) behind the ETA (Estmated time of arrival) was a predesignator for the location our meet. This way we could keep the District Sgt or others from knowing where we were. Such Chicanery for a cup of coffee and/or a look see at the various waitresses. ivn

dick tush said...

Ivan....I remember Schatz very well...when Richard had the 57 Chevy he took the back seat out for the dog.....and I was the best behaved passenger when I rode to work with him. Also recall the time Schatz got into it with another police dog out in the parking lot.

Then there was the time when the dogmen would bring their dogs into rollcall. One night two of them went at it under the briefing tables. There we all were...on top of the tables in a flash. That ended that practice. Then of course there was John Fitches' dog Devil....a real nut case...maybe he took after Fitch????? We all met at Fitches house for a drink prior to a dinner dance. Devil was in the room and attacked Ron Petit and bit Petits arm.

ivano said...

Yes Dick, I remember Devil and Fitch. They once left a party on Rancho Way at about 5:AM in the morning (Circa 1975-76). At about 5:30 AM we (I was rooming with Jim Emmons at the time) were awaken by the Apt. manager who happened to be a San Jose Police Reserve (can't recall is name but I think he was Italian). He informed us that Devil and Fitch crashed their car into some parked vehicles on Rancho Way. No one was hurt, but we had to do some scrambling after that one. Questa e'la vita di noi poveri polezioti. ivn0

Lida said...

Great work.

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Thanks Lida. Hope you will enjoy the other articles on the "Blagga" as well. Keep in touch. Ivan0

NANNETTE said...

NANNETTE SAID: Beautiful but sad story! I wonder if Shatz knew about Richard and went to be his companion in Heaven?!

IVANO SAID: Quite possibly Nannette. I always believed in the saying: "All Dogs Go To Heaven".