When Jeff Wong was hired by the Cypress Police Department as a police-officer trainee on Nov. 23, 1981, Los Alamitos Race Course still had a golf course as its western neighbor. To the east, strawberry fields stretched away to the city limits.
Four months earlier, the first Cypress Community Festival celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the City’s incorporation as “Dairy City.” The last dairy had closed a handful of years before. A chicken ranch on Walker Street held out against developers for a while longer.
Trains still ran along the Pacific Electric right-of-way, blocking traffic on the busiest streets in the city — including Valley View and Lincoln.
Huge cylindrical tanks stored oil in a farm that would later be razed, the property developed into high-end single-family houses.
A wholesale nursery sat between Landell Elementary School and Orange Ave., across from Lexington Junior High School.
The basic police work that Jeff Wong learned as an officer trainee hasn’t changed in the thirty years since. Police officers still need to know how to talk with a wide variety of people. They still need to track down leads and weigh hunches.
But the technology has changed a lot, and the changes greatly help inter-agency communication.
“But I miss the personal interaction with our own dispatchers,” Officer Wong admits.
Officers can now run warrants from their cruiser or motorcycle — so a routine traffic stop can quickly and smoothly become an arrest.
The wooden baton issued to officers as standard equipment is no longer wood — and is collapsible.
The Police Department building has been remodeled twice, and Officer Wong has served under five chiefs of police.
He helped to train the City’s first police dogs, acting in the capacity of “the bad guy” (in police parlance, an agitator) for the dog to practice tracking and subduing. (The protective gear back then didn’t cover the agitator’s entire body. A few nips were common during such training.)
After gaining experience himself, he stepped up to train new recruits as a field-training officer. He has helped coordinate the Volunteers in Policing (VIP) program and acted as an associate explorer advisor and school resource officer.
In an already busy schedule, Officer Wong found time to participate in Tip-a-Cop, National Night Out, the Arthritis Foundation Mini-Grand Prix, the Special Olympics annual Torch Run, and Every 15 Minutes (an impaired driving education program for teens).
His professional and academic credentials are impressive. He has been awarded his basic, intermediate and advanced Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) certificates. He also earned two bachelor of science degrees, one in criminal justice administration and the other in business administration. He is working on a thesis to complete a master’s degree.
From 1987 to 1992, he served as a motorcycle officer. He has also worked as a detective, investigated accidents as a member of the Serious Traffic Accident (STAR) team and marched as a member of the Department Honor Guard.
Officer Wong was also a favorite of school children, acting as the Department’s DARE officer in recent years.
Despite business parks replacing those strawberry fields, and retail commercial development eating up a big chunk of the former golf course, “Cypress still has a home-town feeling,” Officer Wong says. “When I started, it was a sleepy little town. Now there’s more business to balance residential.”
Officer Wong derives the most satisfaction from helping people. “My reward is receiving a friendly wave, or someone saying thanks,” he says.
When pressed to suggest a frustration during those thirty years, he says, “The biggest frustration were things that we could’t control.”
Now that he is just Jeff Wong and no long Officer Wong, he plans on traveling to Europe and the Far East. He wants to visit China with his parents, so that they can see “the Old Country.” (Yes, he speaks Chinese.)
He’ll also be looking for part-time work, and plans to volunteer.
Courtesy photo of Cypress Police Officer Jeff Wong, retired.
- Cypress police blotter, March 22 to March 28 (oc-breeze.com)
- Morning commute unlucky at Lincoln and Denni in Cypress (oc-breeze.com)
- Cypress Council approves resolutions to put zoning-change measure on June ballot (oc-breeze.com)
- Cypress police blotter, February 2 to February 8 (oc-breeze.com)
- Cypress police blotter, March 9 to March 15 (oc-breeze.com)