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Hondo Police Department loses valued investigator, friend

By Diane Cosgrove
Anvil Herald Staff

While many still are in shock at the sudden loss of former Hondo Police lieutenant Douglas Rivers, who died in a biking accident last weekend, Hondo Police lost another brother in blue over the weekend.

Investigator Lynn Rice, a 14-year veteran of the Hondo PD, suffered an apparent heart attack and died Sunday evening at his home between Quihi and Castroville, as he and his wife were in the midst of moving to Castroville. The popular officer had been considering retirement since last year, according to his chief, Johnny Martinez.

“We loved him here,” said Martinez, with a catch in his voice. “He came to work here in 1999.

“He loved police work. He was very methodical and thorough in his investigations. His biggest thrill was making sure someone went to jail for their crime. He made it a goal.

“We met each other in a dark alley, chasing a criminal,” the chief said of their first encounter, while he was still a Department of Public Safety trooper, and Rice was a city officer. “I remember asking him what he was doing and if he needed backup and he said, ‘Chasing somebody.’

“We built a strong bond since then. I took the chief’s position here in 2006 and we became closer. He was like an older brother to me; we talked about personal things, we helped each other out.

“We always talked about our girls, because they played softball,” he continued, noting that Rice had three grown children, two daughters and a son. “I was overwhelmed with the love and passion he had for his kids and what they were doing – the interests that they had, he supported them 110 percent.”

Martinez praised Rice’s devotion to the job and his professional interaction with the public. “He was always willing to lend a helping hand to other officers and often helped them prepare for courtroom testimony.

“District attorney’s officers would often come and meet with him and review cases. Local judges would often commend him on how professional he was on the witness stand.

“He was a very spiritual man – he would sense things,” Martinez said of his Native American officer, a full-blooded Pawnee, raised in his ancestors’ traditions in Oklahoma.

“If you Google Chief Good Fox – that’s his great-grandfather – it shows him in full dress, and you’ll see Lynn in his features,” Martinez continued. He said Rice returned to Oklahoma about every six months or so and stayed connected to his Pawnee roots.

“Sometimes he’d walk around the building, and he was doing his Indian stuff (to help) us,” he said, or he’d tell them he was going back home to Oklahoma and he was going to pray for them.

Rice came to Hondo when his wife, Debbie, accepted a position with Broadway Bank, according to the chief. Rice applied to and was hired by the city’s police force.

He brought extensive experience to the job. His previous employment included working for Tulsa (OK) County Sheriff’s Office, then police departments in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, in addition to his time with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

“He had almost 40 years in law enforcement,” Martinez said of the 67-year-old investigator. “Lynn focused on major, white-collar crimes, and he was very good at it. He also did big embezzlement cases, working closely with bank officials. He worked a lot of the counterfeit cases, with the Secret Service, and they would often come to him and ask him questions about counterfeits.”

Members of the Hondo Police Department traveled to Rice’s home in Oklahoma Tuesday afternoon to attend his services set for Wednesday.

“He’ll be missed,” Martinez concluded.

As is the custom for fallen lawmen, Rice’s badge number, 818, was retired with a “final call” over law enforcement radio yesterday (Wed.) afternoon.

 


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