WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – At six feet, four inches tall and still wearing the old school police hat and uniform, he looks and sounds imposing.
“This is officer Bachman with the WPD. I’m looking for Joseph. We found his Chevy Impala,” barks Bob Bachman into his cell phone.
He knows right away when something is out of place in his neighborhood, like the Impala with busted windows parked behind a business on 21st street.
“Yep, stolen license plate,” said Bachman.
He unscrews it from the bumper and tells another officer, “I’m gonna start a wrecker.”
Officer Bachman gets his street smarts from years of patrolling.
Forty, to be exact, come February. That’s when he joined the Wichita Police Department in 1980.
During the infamous riot that year, Bachman was just a rookie. In fact, he was only on the force five months when officer Paul Garofalo was gunned down on his beat at 9th and Washington.
“There were probably 200 people in the intersection the night that happened at 3 o’clock in the morning,” recalled Bachman.
After Garofalo’s death, Bachman had zero tolerance for crime, and a guy on his beat dubbed him “Dirty Harry” like the famous Clint Eastwood cop.
“He’d say, ‘Here he comes. Here comes Dirty Harry. What’s he think, he’s Dirty Harry?’ Well, the nickname stuck,” said Bachman.
Some people still think his name is Harry!
Bachman is the last original member of the police SWAT team formed in 1986 and fought gang violence at its peak in the 90s.
“The whole north end was pretty wild,” said Bachman. “Used to hear gunshots at night up here all the time.”
And back then, the police had no cell phones or computers in their cars.
“You basically had to write everything down,” said Bachman. “You had to write your calls down. You got a radio and shotgun, and that’s about it.”
But now, his beat is much quieter, and many in the neighborhood consider him an ally.
Through it all, Bachman never wanted to be promoted off the streets.
“I’d rather be out here patrolling. You have a lot more freedom, not sitting behind a desk.”
Even now at 65, he has no plans to retire, even though he’s constantly asked.
“I tell ’em, when I’m ready,” said Bachman. “I still enjoy doing what I’m doing, and physically, I’m blessed to the point where I can still do the job.”
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