Some arrived in full dress uniform, complete with white gloves and a white braid around the left shoulder. Others, on a break from regular patrol duty, wore their everyday police uniforms.
All had come to a mortuary here Sunday afternoon to pay their respects to fallen colleague Howard E. Dallies Jr., a patrol officer who was shot to death by a motorcyclist during a traffic stop last week in north Garden Grove.
Dallies, 36, was shot three times about 2:45 a.m. last Tuesday, the fatal shot ripping into his abdomen just below a bulletproof vest. Police have released a sketch of a man wanted for questioning in connection with the shooting, but no one has been apprehended.
The death of Dallies, who will be memorialized during a public funeral at 11 a.m. today at Garden Grove's Crystal Cathedral, had clearly shaken and saddened those who served with him.
Many wiped away tears Sunday as they emerged from Dimond & Sons Mettler Mortuary in Garden Grove, where a viewing was held for family and friends.
"Howard always wanted to take his job to a higher level," said former Garden Grove Police Chief John Robertson, who is now police chief in neighboring Orange.
"He was very special--most police officers are. But he always gave 100% and wanted to ply his trade in some of the most dangerous areas," Robertson said.
The chief recalled some of Dallies' more perilous assignments, such as undercover work as a narcotics investigator and as an officer assigned to Garden Grove's Buena Clinton neighborhood, once one of the most crime-ridden and blighted areas in Orange County.
Robertson said Dallies wanted to return to patrol duty to prepare himself for the rank of sergeant and to serve as a mentor to some of his younger colleagues.
"He was concerned because we had so many young officers on the street and so much violence," Robertson said. "He wanted to help guide the younger ones."
One such officer was Darrell Rowe, a three-year member of the force.
"He was a leader," Rowe said. "A lot of us younger officers would go to him with questions or for advice, and he'd have the answers. He cared about people and about his fellow officers."
Dallies' father, Howard E. Dallies Sr., stood outside the mortuary with a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other and proudly remembered his son as "a good officer who went by the book."
"He had a lot of guts, and that's what it takes," he said. "He just got caught off guard, and there was no place to go."
The elder Dallies also expressed outrage over the circumstances of his son's death.
Officers "have to go out there and do what they do when we have to live amongst such scum," he said. "It's not fair. You have to go on duty every day and never know what could be facing you when you walk up to a car."
Detective Rick Bermudez, Dallies' partner in the narcotics division for two years, stood nearby and said softly: "It just doesn't seem right. We worked dangerous jobs like the foot beat in Buena Clinton and buying dope undercover. After surviving wars like that, to get killed just telling someone to turn their headlights on . . . it just isn't right."
Detective Randy Warrick, Dallies' partner in the Buena Clinton neighborhood for a year, said: "I just think it's such a tragedy that someone like him has to leave this world at such a young age. I'm really going to miss him, and this community is going to miss him.
"You just don't replace a Howard Dallies."