SMPD badge. (Image courtesy City of Santa Monica)


After reading Mr. Kevin McKeown’s letter noting the powers that be, perhaps influenced by the collective brain of the Santa Monica City Council, have decided to inscribe the late Ken Genser’s initials along with the Latin phrase “Justice for All” on the back of every police badge is an insult to every police officer who has ever served in Santa Monica (“Honoring Ken Genser,” Letters to the Editor, Nov. 14).

You probably won’t know who I’m talking about, but Sgt. Ronald A. Wise, a 33-year-old Santa Monica policeman, died in the line of duty while serving this city on Nov. 3, 1965.

A patrol officer answered a call on Fourth Street where a child was badly beaten, bruised and semiconscious by the perpetrator (perhaps his father). The officer called for backup. Sgt. Wise rolled up in his unit to assist and was shot in the stomach twice by the perpetrator.

Subsequent officers arrived and exchanged fire with the perpetrator. After a brief gun battle, he was taken into custody.

Sgt. Wise was immediately transported to Santa Monica Hospital where he lay in critical condition. Doctors did everything to save his life, but he died the next day of his gunshot wounds.

Sgt. Wise left behind a loving wife and two young daughters. A wife he would never grow old with. Two daughters he would never get to see graduate high school, college and start a family.

The perpetrator served only seven years for killing Sgt. Wise. When he got out, he committed another murder and died in prison while awaiting sentencing for his second crime.

I did not know Sgt. Wise. I was a child too busy reading comic books and collecting baseball cards, but I’m sure he was a good man, a loving father and husband and dedicated to protecting this city as a Santa Monica police officer.

He is the one who should have his name, not initials, on the back of every police officer’s badge, along with the Latin phrase “Verum et Honorem” which means “Truth and Honor.” Every police officer would look on the back of their badge, be reminded of his ultimate sacrifice and be proud of the duties they perform for this city, not a politician who never answered a call and put himself in harm’s way each and every day like they do.

Ken Genser was a Santa Monica politician. Granted, he was elected mayor of Santa Monica three times, but he was never a policeman. He has a square named after him and that is appropriate. Sgt. Wise’s legacy needs to be remembered by every Santa Monica police officer new and old.

According to what I’ve read, Mr. Genser “secured funding” for the Santa Monica Police Department. What does that mean? If the late Mr. Genser’s initials can be placed on the back of a policeman’s badge, why not just put Justin Bieber’s on it? If that’s the case, then every private individual with means can buy the police department and have them do their bidding, a la Biff Tannen in “Back to the Future 2.” That’s all “securing funding” means, right?

Remember the fallen hero who died in the line of duty and do the right thing; remember Sgt. Ronald A. Wise.


Whitney Scott Bain

Santa Monica

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