For this week's cover story on the uproar in Medina over the firing of Police Chief Jeff Chen--who bought machine guns to protect Bill Gates and other Gold Coast billionaires from terrorists--we caught up with another former Medina police chief, Joe Race, in Saipan, the largest island in the Northern Mariana chain.
Joe in paradise.
Now retired after 45 years of police work that includes walking a beat in Los Angeles, instructing cops in Kosovo and Bosnia, and becoming police chief of all Micronesia, he has tried to let his days in Medina, running errands for the rich, fade in the rearview mirror. "Medina was about the most frustrating of my police experience," says the ex-chief, content these days to author a series of books on a variety of topics from true crime to cooking."The department often got requests like 'UPS is coming by today--can you sign for my package?' or 'I got this ticket in Tacoma, can you take care of it for me?' " Race says.
Medina's finest also responded to complaints about raccoons eating from the dog's dish and Canada geese frolicking in a swimming pool, Race recalls. In fairness, all chiefs are bombarded with silly requests, Race points out, but Medina had an excessive share of "spoiled brats" and "jerks," he says.
"I don't know Jeff," he says of Chen. "But I can just imagine what he's going through."
Chen is accused of questionable practices as chief of the wealthy Eastside enclave for seven years, including writing memos under the names of other officers to quash traffic tickets and order equipment. But a crowd of powerful supporters wants him back, and prefers that the town's city manager, who fired Chen, is sent packing instead.
The ex-chief, who during the same period went through a messy divorce in which he found out his ex was having a thing with a member of the Bandidos motorycle gang and allegedly posted racy pics of herself on the net using his police computer, wants his job back or at least a settlement from the city. By most accounts, his fight is headed to court.
Joe Race urges Chen to do something like he did when he split from the squabbling community in 1997. "Make a settlement," he says, "and get out of Dodge." If nothing else, it's better, he says, than responding calls to "Please take my trash out on Wednesday because I'll be hunting in Mexico."