Hello my friends! I hope this message finds you all safe and well. On Tuesday, October 20th, we are hosting our first dinner meeting since the COVID lockdown. The state and county have relaxed restrictions for gatherings and now allow for indoor dining with maximum occupancy of 25%. Coordinating Council members Kevin Traylor, Cliff Haynes and Eddy Bermudez are preparing for our dinner. They have purchased the necessary equipment to implement our safety plan, ensuring that we can have an enjoyable dinner. It has been too long, and I am looking forward to seeing you!
In September we lost three of our own. Rudy Martin, Vaune Dillmann and Bob Heritage all passed away. There is no record of our association ever losing three members in one month.
It is my honor to introduce this month’s “Spotlight Member of the Month”, Herbert “Cliff” Heanes. Cliff is 77 years old and married to his beautiful wife Mickie of 33 years. Cliff has 5 children, 9 grandchildren with another one due in November, and 2 great grandchildren. Cliff was born in Santa Ana, California and grew up in Orange County.
After graduating high school, Cliff entered into the United States Air Force and served from 1961-1965. He was stationed the entire time at Travis AFB in Fairfield, CA. Cliff joined the Oakland Police Reserve Unit in 1964 and after being honorably discharged from the US Air Force he joined the Oakland Police Department and entered the police academy. Cliff proudly graduated from the 42nd recruit school in 1966. Cliff went on to work Patrol, Crime Prevention Unit, and Special Operations Section assigned to the Air Unit as a pilot.
During the 1960’s it was a tumultuous time for law enforcement in Oakland and across the country. Back then, militant anti-police groups existed just as they do today. These groups violently targeted law enforcement. Much of the violence against police were ambush styled attacks. The following is a story of a tragic and harrowing experience Cliff went through early in his career at OPD.
On October 28, 1967, at approximately 0456 hours, Officer Cliff Heanes responded as cover for Officer John Frey who made a car stop on a gold and beige sedan in the 1650 block of 7th Street between Willow and Campbell Streets. Officer Frey radioed in warrant checks for the vehicle’s two occupants, one of which was the notorious Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther Party and self-proclaimed “Minister of Defense”. Cliff arrived on scene and assisted Officer Frey. While Frey detained Newton, Cliff walked the other occupant to the rear of his police vehicle.
Cliff recalled the following events, “While Frey was escorting Huey Newton to his car after being arrested, Newton passed Frey’s car and was headed to my car. Newton spun around suddenly and shot Frey in his shoulder. I drew my 4” .38 special but could not shoot at Newton because of Frey’s proximity to him. At that point Newton shot me in my right arm. He took Frey’s gun and shot Frey 3 more times. He then shot me in my chest (no vests in those days) which went through my chest and out my lower back. I also got shot in my left knee. At that point I saw a perfect target on his belly and I then gut shot Newton which ended the shootout and Newton’s passenger helped him flee”.
According to reports, Officer Thomas Fitzmaurice was first to arrive on scene after a call for help. Officer Fitzmaurice located Officer Frey on the ground suffering from gunshot wounds, two to the chest, one in the leg, and one on his side.
Officer Fitzmaurice heard moaning coming from Cliff’s’ vehicle. He found Cliff slumped in the front seat. It appeared Cliff had attempted to retrieve the bracketed patrol shotgun but could not remove it. According to Officer Fitzmaurice, Cliff suffered from gunshot wounds to his chest, lower back, right arm, and leg. Officer Frey and Cliff were transported to the hospital in critical condition but not before Cliff was able to whisper some details of the shooting to officer Fitzmaurice that helped determine the order of events. Officer Frey later died of his injuries leaving behind a young daughter. Cliff underwent surgery and survived! At the time of the shooting Cliff was married with a 3-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter.
Newton recovered from the gunshot wound to his stomach and only served 2 years in prison before his conviction was overturned. In 1989 Newton was shot and killed in West Oakland by a crack dealer over a drug deal.
In 1972, Cliff was assigned to the Helicopter Unit as a pilot. While piloting and patrolling the skies over Oakland in the OPD helicopter, Argus (Hughes 300), the helicopter suffered engine failure. Cliff was forced to crash land the helicopter on Bancroft Avenue across from Eastmont Mall. Miraculously, Cliff and his partner survived.
Cliff retired in May of 1987, a decorated officer and a recipient of many awards including the OPD Blue Star Award. Cliff was a dedicated police officer who nearly lost his life, more than once, in the line of duty. He fought with a warrior mind and a strong will to survive.
Just like the past two spotlight members of the month, we are honored to have Cliff Heanes as a member of Le Société de Camaraderie. Cliff sits on the Coordinating Council volunteering hundreds of hours. He is also an officer in the Municipal Motorcycle Officers Association of California.
Cliff, we are proud of you! Thank you for your service to your country, to your community, and to Le Société de Camaraderie.
Our members, from retirees to current officers, each have a story to tell. At the next gathering or at work, take the opportunity to share stories. You may be surprised to learn of a heroic story or two.
On behalf of the Coordinating Council we will continue to promote the values of Le Société de Camaraderie- Charity, Comradeship, and Country! Stay safe and stay healthy!
God bless you all, and until next time,
(SEE PRESS PHOTO BELOW)