Pasadena police veteran Lt. Phlunte Riddle announces her retirement
By André Coleman 11/01/2012
After 28 years, Pasadena police Lt. Phlunte Riddle will resign from the department effective Dec. 19.
“After long and heartfelt consideration and prayer, I am announcing my retirement. I have received some offers that I just cannot pass up,” Riddle told the Weekly. “I love Pasadena and the Police Department and I plan to continue to be an active part of the community.”
Riddle will be working as a part-time contractor with a state agency training police officers overseas.
Riddle broke gender and racial barriers in the department, becoming the first African-American female sergeant and the first female lieutenant in the motor pool. She was also the first female helicopter observer at major Rose Bowl events.
Under the direction of former Chief Bernard Melekian and Cmdr. Rick Law, Riddle started the city’s police athletic league.
Her father-in-law, Ralph Riddle, became the first black police officer in Pasadena in 1946. He retired in 1974 also after 28 years with the force.
Earlier this year, Phlunte Riddle received several invitations to apply for police chief positions, including one from the city manager in Seal Beach. She was eliminated from contention for the position in the semifinal round when the city decided to look only at candidates with police chief experience.
Riddle became the department’s public information officer in 2008, after Philip Sanchez became police chief, and introduced the new chief to the city’s major stakeholders, including residents of Northwest Pasadena.
“I think that she has had an extraordinary career and has been the first to achieve many, many goals and receive many accolades for women in law enforcement,” said Sanchez in an interview Monday. “When she started, it was a different environment and women had to endure hostility. She blazed a trail in many regards and ascended to the highest level of the organization.
“Her local accessibility is extraordinary,” he continued. “She is contacted at all times of the day and night concerning issues in the community and directs those to the appropriate people in the organization.”
Sanchez said he did not know who would replace Riddle.
Earlier this year, Riddle was named as a defendant in two separate lawsuits filed by the mother and father of 19-year-old Kendrec McDade, who on March 24 was shot and killed by two Pasadena police officers who believed the unarmed teen had a gun.
Riddle was later dropped from both lawsuits.
“I will miss the police family tremendously,” Riddle said Monday. “They have been a major part of my life.”