Saturday, March 20, 2010

JIM ALIGO REMEMBERED BY JAIMI SALDIVAR

OFFICER JIM ALIGO - SAN FRANCISCO POLICE TAC SQUAD 1968-69
FAMOUS FRONT COVER PHOTO SEEN AROUND THE WORLD

IVANO SAYS: I received the below e-mail from Camille Brent, Jim Aligo's daughter, regarding her father along with a remembrance by retired San Jose Police Officer Jaime Saldivar. After leaving the San Francisco Police Department, circa 1970, Jim Aligo joined the San Jose Police Department.
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Hi all. I discontinued the virtual memorials (or I thought I did) some time ago. This entry just popped up today. Since I cancelled the service I'm not sure if it will post when I approve it for entry so I thought I'd forward it on. It's a long post about dad but brought laughter and tears at the same time. But it's so dad! Enjoy the memory. -Camille


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I was a rookie officer in the early months of 1976 and spent one week with Jim as my FTO as he was filling in for my regular FTO. I knew who he was by name, but I sure as hell didn't know who he was. After I loaded up the car before shift, he came out . " You got everything you need kid"? "Yes." I said. " Lemme see your soft hat". So I gave him my brand knew, crisp soft hat. He turned it over and over in his hands and said," lemme fix it for ya". He then reached into the hat and pulled out the plastic forming coil and threw it in the garbage can. As I watched in disbelief, he walked towards the front of the car and placed my hat right in front of the tire. He started the car and drove forward and backward over the hat a few times all the while being careful to miss the hat piece. He then picked up my hat and with great care and masking tape rolled over his hand, he cleaned it and formed it into a shape closely similar to his own that was placed atop his head. " Here," he said handing it back to me," that's a real policeman's hat now". Not uttering a word I took it back. " You don't mind if I drive do ya?" " No, I don't mind." I replied. " Let's see if we can pinch a crook tonight." " Sure," I again replied. Wow! What the hell else is he going to do to me tonight? I excitedly thought.
Later on that night we were cruising on one of the main streets with nothing and nobody in front of us. Jim was mostly silent during the shift . His silence was only broken by the occassional cough, piss break or his one or two questions regarding my personal history or upbringing. I never thought he was mean and I didn't feel intimidated by his demeanor. On the contrary, I felt comfortable and somewhat at ease, something not usually felt as a recruit being evaluated. My attention was brought back to the emptiness of the streets ahead of us as Jim calmly broke the silence. " Hey kid, you wanna make a pinch?" "Yea! sure... " My head rapidly pivoted side to side trying to see what the hell I missed. He smoothly tapped the brakes which slowed us to about 25mph and a car on my right passed us gradually. Now I'm still wondering who or what he is talking about. " Do you know how to use the radio?" he asked. I said I did and he told me to use it on the car that just passed us. So we stopped the car according to all the academy proper protocal. Jim got out, put on his hat and calmly walked up to the drivers side. I was also out of the car and was keeping a nervous eye on the two males in the car ahead of us. Halfway up to the car Jim pulled out his revolver and held it alongside of his leg, keeping it there as he was talking to the driver. I had seen this before with other officers so it didn't surprise me to much. What did surprise me was when he pointed the gun at the men and told them to put their hands up which they did. Now he was very calm and speaking softly so my brain became even more confused. Keeping the gun trained on both of them he told the passenger to get out and " talk to that kid back there", motioning towards me. I was fumbling with my gun at this time and the passenger did what he was told. I searched this guy when Jim told me to hook him up. My mind was racing and heart was ready to burst. " What is going on!!!!!" I thought. Keeping his gun trained on the driver, Jim told him also to " go talk to that kid over there." Now I did the same thing to the driver. Jim was still standing by the drivers door of the crook car and asked if I had them both. I said I did. He then holstered his revolver and started looking inside the car without actually going in. He then hesitated for a second, bent down reaching under the drivers seat. He then pulled out a loaded 1911 pistol with the biggest shit-eatin-grin on his face. My jaw dropped. I was stunned. After we booked the guys I stopped him and looked him straight in the eyes. " How in the hell did you know that was there?????" I demanded. He just grinned with his teeth clenched and gave me a husky laugh. " Aw, you'll figure it out" and walked away as he kept laughing.
The next night, he did the same identical thing with two hippie girls in a VW bug. He pulled a pound a marijuana out of that one. When that bug drove in front of us and he turned again to me and uttered those words, " hey kid, you wanna make a pinch?" I couldn't believe it. Again after the booking I asked how did he know. He told me the same thing that I will figure it out.
My friend Jim was one of , if not the best policeman I have ever known. Over the years I learned much from watching him as he never really told how he did something. Maybe he really didn't know himself or if he did he couldn't explain it. But his sixth sense was uncanny and his ability and methods were passed on through me to my recruits as well. I am very proud and honored to have known him and to have been his friend. I think of him often and am grateful for the experience of learning from this man. I was saddened when I was notified of his passing and funeral service long after it was held. I wanted to be there to bid my friend goodbye. To his children I hope that this gives you a little insight as to how your father impacted guys like me. He always ruled by the adage " good people get a break, bad guys go to jail." He is a great street cop; I think that is all he ever wanted to be. About a week before he retired, I heard him go out on a foot patrol at a pool hall. I rolled up to say hi and see what he was doing. He showed me a picture of a burglar and got a line that the guy frequents this pool hall. A week before he retires, at his age, and he is still looking for crooks. Amazing.
God, take care of my friend in heaven, because he sure spent his time in hell.
Jaime Saldivar #1805 SJPD ( Ret)


3 comments:

tina said...

Ahhh...Ofc.Jim Aligo..one of the greatest SJ Coppers I've ever met. Jim was my partner in the warrant unit from 89-92. I learned sooo much from him & he was a great inspiration for me and what all cops should be. I hold fast to 3+ years of stories and memories that this man created...from SF to SJ..It was a pleasure to learn and work with such a great ICON! I miss him terribly. These are guys that simply cannot be replaced or forgotten. Jim, where the hell are ya' really?? I miss you..YOU put the 'vinegar in my piss' and its still there!..Thanks Bro! RIP!

RUSS said...

Thanks for this.

By the way, I really got a kick out of the recent Polenta controversy. Keep it up,

Russ
SJPD Ret

TUSH said...

IVAN...THANX FOR THIS...

I STILL REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I SAW JIM...THEY HAD BUSED US UP TO SAN FRANCISCO TO DO RIOT DUTY AT SF STATE. HE WAS FUNNY AS HELL THIS WAS ON A THURSDAY...THAT AFTERNOON WE DID SOME BATTLE. THE FOLLOWING DAY THEY BUSED US UP AGAIN...AND THERE WAS JIM..LEG IN A CAST.
DT SJPD RET