According to the South Pasadena Police Department, the department purchased two Thor motorcycles in 1909 to help deal with speeding motorists. The first two motorcycle officers, Frank Higgins (who later became police chief) and John Lillick, were the seventh and eighth motorcycle officers in the history of Los Angeles County.
In 1913, South Pasadena motorcycle officers Archie Cooper and Frank Higgins boarded an airship taking law enforcement and neighborhood watch to new heights. They cruised eight hundred feet above South Pasadena in a dirigible built and designed by Roy Knabenshue (who offered $25 per flight over San Gabriel Valley becoming the first passenger air service in America).
In the photo above, South Pasadena’s top brass stand with two leather-jacketed motorcycle officers in front of the police station on Mission next to the old city hall building (current site of city hall today). In the street are two flat-head Harleys with bicycle pedal kick starters.
Motorcycle officer Ray Rogers was killed during a high-speed pursuit on the Arroyo Seco Parkway on April 15 in 1944. He lost control of his motorcycle and struck a utility post.
Note: Officer Rogers was the only police officer killed in the line of duty in the history of the South Pasadena Police Department. He was survived by his wife, son, and daughter.
Throwback Thursday is written and produced by Rick Thomas