Lieutenant Ronald McDonald has retired after 53 years of chasing real hamburglars as a Pomona police officer.
“When I was born and named, I came before Ronald McDonald,” McDonald said. “I don’t where my mother got it from. I think it was in the early 70’s when I even had Ronald McDonald hair. The name’s been fun because kids relate to it obviously.”
McDonald, now 77, says a lots changed since he became a cop at age 25 in 1965.
“I’ve been through 15 or 16 chiefs,” he said. “Some excellent, some good, some couldn’t even spell chief.”
“When I started they didn’t have handy-talkies or what other people call walkie-talkies,” he said.
Pomona used to use what was called the Gainwell system, McDonald said. Officers would watch a light on top of a tower in Downtown Pomona which had a phone at the bottom of it.
“If the light went off you’d go to the phone and say ‘what do you want?’ And off you’d go to your call.”
Since then McDonald has worked everything from patrol to collecting alarm permit fees, from helicopter observer to his last stint as watch commander.
But other than a clown taking his name after he was born, McDonald said policing has changed a lot in his five decades as a cop.
“Law enforcement is going through quite a struggle now,” he said. “Everyday officers are being shot at or shot. It’s a hard assignment.”
Some things that have made policing better.
“I think DNA is a big difference,” he said. “And of course social media gives you that social media aspect to put information out to the public for the public’s help.”
McDonald says one of the hardest cases he ever worked was when a young boy from Anaheim was kidnapped at a fireworks stand and left dead in the Philips Ranch area when it was under construction.
“That was finally solved at the end of last year by a cold case,” he said. “I was happy to see that, they finally got the killer.”
The case was solved through DNA, he said.
As why he stayed 20 years longer than when he could have retired, for the same pension.
“I really enjoy this, people don’t understand that,” he said. “It’s interesting. It’s complex. There’s different things happening every day. I fortunately had good crews that I worked with, good investigators. But over the years the experience has retired well ahead of me.”
“Watching the new people come up is quite a transition,” McDonald said. “My wife passed away in 97 from cancer and I decided well my health is still good, I’ll just keep on going as long as I can go. This was the limit though.”
McDonnell says he will miss the people he worked with the most but he’s most proud that he did it right.
“That I was respected, I had my dignity that’s all I care about,” he said. “Other than that? You earn honor.”
Pictures provided by McDonald family.