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True Police Stories

"Courage is the ability to move; when all around you are frozen in fear
and no one would blame you if you did nothing at all." Capt. Click. Phx. PD

My Name is Rick Dalton

Taken from the book Think About it... for your reading convenience

My life is a story of trial and error. I learn most of the time by trial and error. There are easier ways to learn about life, such as taking others’ advice, others who have experienced the road upon which I am now traveling. But somehow, I usually have to learn myself.

My police career began on June 16th, 1978. During the next twenty weeks, I learned that I could stretch my physical and mental capacities beyond what I thought possible. This was partially because there was a police sergeant, a drill instructor of sorts, threatening and challenging me all the way. Their academy was very militaristic. They pushed you to your limits. I wouldn’t trade that experience for a million bucks, but I wouldn’t do it over again for ten million!

It’s like that in life. We can expand our sights beyond what is humanly possible,
          but only with superhuman help. ...God’s.

I was an insurance salesman when I joined the Mesa Police Department. What a change in
perspective! As a cop, I have participated in many exciting and emotional moments. My first traffic stop after becoming a solo beat officer was interesting. I was so excited about making my first stop. When the chance came, I did everything perfectly. I checked off on the plate, gave the correct location, stopped my vehicle in the perfect position behind the violator, exited my vehicle and walked up to him stiff and proud. My chest was pressed forward against my shirt as I walked. As I asked for his license, I suddenly realized that he was now moving forward. I thought he was trying to get away. To my chagrin, I realized that my car had struck his car and was pushing his car forward. I had done everything right, except, for putting my car into park. He didn’t think it was funny and neither did I. But my back-up, a seasoned veteran by the name of Bob, couldn’t stop laughing.

I have solved homicides and put child molesters behind bars for life. These were very satisfying
moments. But there were others that did not involve arresting people, that were infinitely more
fulfilling for me. Here’s just one. I got a call one time in regards to found property. The call was from a young boy who had found some Christmas presents scattered in a field. As I drove to the call, I saw that they were valuable and several were just the kind of things a kid his age would love to have. But this boy had called the police. He didn’t grab what he could and run. I remember thinking that this kid was a cut above the rest.

The presents had been unwrapped and left in the field. Some of the wrappers had first names on them, like “Lacey” and “ Thad,” but they had no other markings that would lead us to their owners. It was just two days before Christmas. I knew these presents were some children’s Happy Christmas. The problem was, ...whose?

As I thanked the young man and drove around the subdivision, looking for someone who might know where they belonged, I noticed how empty the streets were. “Everybody must have done their shopping early,” I thought. “And they are all snug in their homes with their families.” But I knew these presents were some children’s Christmas and I prayed briefly for the Lord to help me find their  owners. But seeing not a soul outside, reluctantly, I drove to the station to put the presents into property for safe keeping.

As I pulled into the parking lot at headquarters, something struck me. I had a distinct feeling that I should go back to the area where the boy had found the presents. It was a slow workday, so there were no immediate pressing problems to handle. I backed out of my parking space and retraced my route, wondering if it was anything more than wishful thinking. When I got to the area and drove around, I was again faced with empty streets. As I rounded the last corner and prepared to leave again, I saw a grey-haired man and two children raking leaves. I pulled up and waved the man over, pointing to the presents filling the back of my patrol car. As he looked at them, tears filled his eyes and he yelled to the kids, his grandchildren, “Lacey and Thad,” he said, “go in and ask Grandma for some cookies.” I needed no explanation. He told me that he had been Christmas shopping yesterday and he had left the trunk open while he carried some presents inside. When he came back outside, only two minutes later, his trunk was empty and his heart sank.

          “I prayed and prayed” he said, “that God would help us,
                       because I had no more money to buy presents for my grandkids.
                                   And God has answered my prayers.”
                                               “Mine too,” I choked.

This is the kind of thing I enjoy. This is part of being a cop. It’s not always kicking butts and taking names. It’s serving and protecting. He who would be great must be the servant of all. This is why I love my job. I have experienced many other opportunities in my twenty years of service. They have all left me with the same feeling:

God governs in the affairs of men.

One of the most essential discoveries a person can make is one of self worth. It must be made,
however, in the context of our nature, our natural state. When we set up an un-natural belief system, we have an un-natural concept of self worth. The Babylonians suffered from this malady. They thought that they could reach up to God on their own power. I always wanted to be somebody. My early life’s goals were centered around money and influence. I wanted to be a millionaire before the age of thirty. I wanted to drive the fastest cars, to walk in the most elite circles. These aspirations brought me much pain and sorrow. Thank God! For there were other discoveries awaiting me, if I only would realize my utter helplessness to achieve happiness apart from God.

Only when my life was hopeless, in my own eyes, could God get through to me.
I turned in despair and finally asked for help,
                               from God, through His Son Jesus Christ.

Christ is the first word in Christmas, though we forget it. The child who was born to Joseph and Mary in the manger in Bethlehem was indeed Jesus The Christ, the Son of God, our Heavenly Father. Many words have been written of Him, and many million worship Him in their own way. Of all the things that might be said, two words say them all. Those words are true whether we know them of a surety or not, and whether we believe in Him and His teachings or not. The words are simple, yet powerful, and spell rich blessings and fullness of joy for His disciples. The wealthy and the poor alike are the beneficiaries of these two words. The young, old, the high and the low in station and the atheist, agnostic and pagan share in the promise of this glorious truth, even if they have yet to realize it. I say the words with reverence and awe, with thankfulness and joy, with sorrow for my weaknesses and hope for His strength and atoning sacrifice.

I testify that these two words are true. “He lives.”

Through Him, I am somebody. These two words are the foundation of my life and of the Plan of
Salvation. And because He lives, His mission is complete. This is where I found my self-worth. I realized that Jesus Christ, my Savior, gave His life for me. He knew my name! He knew my future mistakes, my weakness, my disobedience, and yet He died for me!

That makes me somebody!

When we arrest people, many of them enter into a plea agreement with the judge and the prosecutor. The judge must make a determination on the record that the defendant entered into the agreement, “knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily”. Only then is the agreement binding. Jesus agreed to shed His blood for me knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily. And He did it for you, too.

My most difficult as well as my most personal experience as a police officer took place just one week before Thanksgiving of 1995. It was about 1100 hrs. on a quiet day when suddenly radio advised of a 963 (accident with fatalities) involving a decapitation. Only a block away, I was 97 within moments, getting there just before the paramedics arrived. As I looked at the car, I couldn’t believe my eyes It was demolished. There were three teenage boys inside. They had been speeding when they lost control of the car and had struck a telephone pole. I ran to the driver’s door. I could see that the passenger was clearly dead. He was not decapitated, but he was not recognizable as human either. The driver, though suffering severe cuts, was somehow alive. I asked him if he was okay. He said, “Help my friends first.” We put a blanket over the passenger in the front seat and then I looked in the back seat. There was my neighbor, Russell, just a few days away from his eighteenth birthday! He was lying on the floor with his legs pinned under the front seat. I had known Russell since he was in junior high and had taught him in Sunday School. He had sustained a massive head injury. He couldn’t speak. He looked at me and seemed to understand when I said,

“Russell, just hold on and we will get you out. You’ll be alright!”

I wasn’t actually so sure, but I had to keep him calm. The paramedics were trying to extricate him with the Jaws of Life. As the intensity of the situation grew, I found myself confronted with a
situation that I had never faced before. Here I was, a trained professional, accustomed to being in charge and now I was totally powerless. Not a good feeling. I paced back and forth and then I realized that there was nothing I could do. This forced me to look for help. The paramedics were doing all they could. So instinctively, I turned to the Lord. He had always been there for me. I trusted Him and I knew that He could provide whatever was necessary in this situation. I asked God to help me to help Russell. I immediately went to Russell and held his hand, talking to him and telling him I was there. I thought about Russell’s father, Nelson, my friend and golf partner who was unaware of the situation and unable to be here for his son at this time in his life.

As I silently prayed and tried to forget the helpless feeling I had, I felt to give Russell a Priesthood blessing. I asked the paramedics and the bystanders, “Is anyone here LDS?” There was no response. Suddenly I knew what to do and I did it. I climbed up onto the trunk of the mangled vehicle and reached in through the broken rear window. I placed my hands on Russell’s head. He had just lost consciousness. As I followed my feelings, I was so thankful that in this time of my helplessness, there was somewhere, someone to turn to. The words I spoke came without hesitation and the noise and confusion of the deadly scene seemed distant for a moment. I pronounced a blessing of comfort on Russell’s head and asked the Lord to take this son into his own care and to preserve Russell’s life, if that were His will. As I finished, he was finally freed from the tangled wreck and I helped to wheel the gourney to the waiting helicopter. I felt lost.

Next, I had to call Russell’s parents and pick them up for the drive to the hospital. Russell died after several hours. His family remained strong and their faith never wavered. The young driver, the single survivor of the vehicle, was charged with manslaughter. He had been driving 75 mph in a 35 mph zone. At his sentencing, Nelson was present to speak to the judge. He didn’t demand the maximum sentence, but rather plead with the judge not to put this boy in jail. What a humbling experience that was for me. I learned the meaning of forgiveness that day.

          This case taught me that when everything you need is gone,
                            and there is nothing else you can do,
                                                   God still cares and He is still there.
                                                                           ...For Russell, for me ...and for you.

When we were children, we often left the house to play and explore the world around us. I remember that I often was unwise and unlucky and I was injured or became afraid. All I had to do, however, was run home to my place of safety and refuge. My parents were there to comfort and to protect me. All I needed was to come home. Today, we often stray from our home, from God. Trusting in our own power and sometimes forgetting the loving warnings given to us by God, we are often overcome by the things of the world. We become lost in the hurry and confusion of this life and we are unable to sort things out on our own. We then turn to such substitutes for God’s love and Christ’s Atonement, such as drugs, alcohol, our jobs or any other diversions or perversions.

Floundering in a sea of turmoil, we become more afraid and desperate, when all the time, we need only remember one simple remedy, Come Home. Those words are spoken to all of us and even to you, who might be reading this book now. They are spoken by the Spirit of God to your spirit, to your soul. They are said in the same manner as a loving parent would plead with us to come in out  of the rain. God, even His Son, Jesus Christ, speaks them to you now. Come Home. In Matthew 11:28-30 Christ said:

“Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall
find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.”

Friend, brother or sister, lay your burdens down. Come home. Lay them down at the feet of Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life. He has restored His Church on the earth for us to find our way home. I have testified in murder cases and matters of life and death. Yet this testimony that I give to you now is infinitely more important.

          Jesus is the Son of the Living God.
                    He has given His personal authority to perform the ordinances
                              of Salvation to those He has personally chosen.
                    They are the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
                                        I know it. And you can know it too.
          Start your own investigation. Get the facts, and ask God to tell you the truth.
                                        In Jesus Christ’s name , Amen,

                                                      Officer A. Rick Dalton Badge #3515


If you are or were a police officer, soldier, fireman
or wife, mother, father of such or some other branch of emergency personnel
and would like to share an unusual testimony building experience with others,
please contact us for details at

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Thank you and God bless,


"Think About it..." mailed to your home for only $14.95   S&H included

Read "Think About it..." Online Warrior Stories  | Excerpts | News Articles | Poems
Rear Cover | Reviews | About the Book | About the Author | Order | E-Mail  |  Home

S&J Liberty Publishing
P.O. Box 7899   Mesa, AZ 85216-7899
A 317 page full size book, mailed to your home for only $14.95   S&H included