ORANGE COUNTY PERSPECTIVE : The Loss of Another Good Cop

There are good cops and bad cops, and Garden Grove Police Officer Howard Ellsworth Dallies Jr. was definitely one of the good ones. Amid an extraordinary outpouring of grief and respect, Dallies was buried Monday, six days after he was gunned down during a routine traffic stop. Police are still searching for the driver of a stolen motorcycle who is believed to be the killer.

Dallies was just 36. He began his law enforcement career as a teen-ager and became a "cop's cop" who was a role model in his department. He was also a husband and the father of two young boys.

Perhaps it was the fact that Dallies was shot while his gun was still in its holster, or that law enforcement officers feel under siege because of the Rodney King trials and a spate of recent cop killings. But, also, here was an officer who represented the best they could be.

The reaction to the killing of Dallies was a funeral that overflowed the Crystal Cathedral. Among the 4,000 who attended were Gov. Pete Wilson and Los Angeles Police Chief Willie L. Williams. Police officers from as far away as Utah and Washington showed up in force to honor a man who was a stranger to them. In part, they were motivated by a sense of "there but for the grace of God go I"; but they were also moved by respect for a fallen officer who died when he still had much to contribute.

Dallies was the fifth Garden Grove officer, and the 31st in Orange County, to be fatally shot on duty in the last 80 years. An officer who spoke at the funeral expressed the hope that Dallies would be the last to fall. That's not likely, and that's the biggest tragedy of all.

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