Randy Benson #3434, retired Seattle Police Patrol Officer passed away on August 24, 2017. He was 69 years of age upon passing.
He and his twin were born in Boise, Idaho. Unfortunately, his twin brother did not survive. Randy had a congenital hip condition that required a large cast for much of his early childhood. The doctor projected he would never attain full usage of the joint. They were wrong. Randy worked out until he was 100% recovered.
Randy’s father, William, was a sales manager of mobile home parks. His specialty was start-ups or restructuring existing parks that were in default, back into profitability. Unfortunately, this required the family to move frequently – in fact, thirty-four times. Randy attended sixteen different schools by the time of graduation from Port Angeles High.
While in high school, his cousin was killed in Vietnam. So, upon graduation, Randy joined the Army. His hip disability was not noticed. He volunteered for helicopters and became a crew chief. While posted to Vietnam, he survived three crashes: one shoot down and two mechanical failures. The result was a severe back injury that got him assigned to a plumb job – recruiting sergeant in Germany. When his three-year tour was up, he returned to Washington.
The Seattle Police Department was hiring due to IACP recommendations and civil unrest. Randy applied. Neither his hip condition, nor his back injury was discovered, so he was hired in July 1970. He was immediately assigned to Patrol for the summer riots. He survived the riots. In the winter, he was sent to the Academy. While going through riot training, he was hit in the knee with one of the new Ironwood riot batons. The knee was blown out, requiring many surgeries. He refused a medical retirement, finished up as a recycle in another Academy class after his rehabilitation.
He was assigned to Georgetown. There, he met and teamed up with another recent Vietnam Vet, Frank Alexander #3271. They became partners, handling the usual calls; such as the chronic check-the-welfare of an old couple. The old man drunk and lonely, wanting to talk. The old woman lonely, sick of her drunk husband, wanted to connect with a young (police) man. Neither young patrolman volunteered. After three years, both Frank and Randy were split up to be FTOs for six months. When they reunited, they transferred to East Central to work 3C1 for three years.
In October 1979, Artie Ray Baker - a radical, killed a border agent at Blaine, Washington. Artie was arrested right away and ended up in the King County Jail. He shared a group cell with murderers and robbers while awaiting trial. His radical followers managed to get a gun in to him. On October 14 at 2040 hours, Artie Baker broke out of the jail with his cell mates. His armed radical crew was waiting in front of the County Courthouse in two Mustangs for Artie to arrive. He did. As Radio got the info and broadcast it, the car fled to Cherry Street and turned up the hill. It just passed 3rd and Cherry when Frank and Randy exited “G” deck onto Cherry, right behind the suspect car. In the 400 block of Cherry, the gun fight began. Frank was shot three times in the left side – arm pit, hip and rib area, by Larry Wayne Jones. Randy shot Jones in the liver. Then Randy shot at the car, but the .38 Super Vel bullet did not penetrate, so the Mustang drove off. Randy, who was almost a paramedic, gave advanced first aid to Frank until the medics arrived. Both Mustangs were pursued uptown, and all suspects were captured after more shots fired. This could have been a massacre, the way the radicals were armed and committed against “the man”. It was only the Patrol Officers superb performance that saved the day. Frank’s gunshot wounds forced his retirement in April of 1980.
Randy elected to stay in Patrol on 3rd Watch East. In the 1980s, he transferred back to Georgetown, 3rd Watch. He mostly worked a one-man district. He was a legend for the way he detailed his prowl car at the beginning of each shift. He was even seen waxing it at the gas station in Westwood Village. Everyone on the other shifts wanted to drive his spotless car.
Randy stayed on 3rd Watch his entire career. In 1997, his injuries from the military and the job, plus the congenital hip condition, finally forced him to retire, after almost 27 years of service. Then he worked as a Muni Court Marshal for approximately three years.
In 2000, he decided to leave Kent and move to Emmett, Idaho where many of his relatives resided. The next year, be bought a house there, which came with his future wife – Jan. While Randy and Jan were negotiating the house sale, they found a lot in common, and liked each other. Over the months, like turned into love. So, they got married in 2001.
Randy was a man of many talents. He and Jan enjoyed many hobbies: traveling across the southwest, oil and water color painting, gunsmithing, rebuilding hotrods, photography, and lapidary (rock hounding and mineral polishing.) On one rock hound expedition to find “Biggs Jasper”, Randy and his cousin, Sandy, had to drive up a very steep rocky road next to the Columbia River. They were in Randy’s new 4-wheel pickup. Randy put the truck in 4-wheel drive and began up the hill. But the truck bogged down. So, Randy told Sandy, “No problem, I’ll back down, turn around and back up because reverse is a lower gear.” He did it. At the top of the hill, Sandy complimented Randy on his fancy backing, up and down the steep rough road with a drop off on its south side. Then Sandy asked, “Why didn’t you just put the transfer case into 4-wheel low?” Randy answered, “Frequently wrong, but never undaunted!”
Randy is survived by his wife, Jan; daughter Chrissy; sons, Jacob, Stephen, and Jon. Jon is a lieutenant in the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, and the COP of Contract City Kuna, Idaho. He says Randy’s experience and advice has helped him be a better leader “by being grounded on who does the real work – road deputies – not rear echelon bureaucrats”