No one knows better the danger that a tense circumstance can present than police in the United States. Constantly under pressure to control people who are guaranteed rights that provide them a wide latitude of no control, the scenarios that citizens can present range from the mundane to sheer terror, even for a trained professional. With that thought, we continue to reflect on moments in the history of law enforcement we wish we could get back, the sacrifices of those that have paid the ultimate price on our behalf.
Police Officer John R. Melendez
Officer Melendez had worked for Bal Harbour Police Department for five weeks. Bal Harbour is a small beach community in the Miami Metropolitan area. His time on the job was fast-paced, and full of excitement. He earned a commendation for catching a burglar at a house on his tenth day on the job. When people were asked about Officer Melendez, he was known as being mature, professional, but everyone agreed he appeared young, despite his demeanor. On October 17, 1985, he responded to an officer’s call for help, who was engaged in a high-speed pursuit. Officer Melendez approached the Haulover Beach Bridge, which connects Bal Harbour with the other beach communities to the north. As he reached the downgrade that entered Haulover Park, his car lost traction, causing the vehicle to flip, while at the same time his seat buckle broke in two, which caused Officer Melendez to be tossed throughout the vehicle as the vehicle continued to flip, crashing on its roof, sides, and eventually on its roof a final time. As the vehicle flipped, Officer Melendez was ejected from the vehicle. Between all the trauma, he didn’t stand a chance. Officer Melendez was 27-years-old.
Officer Melendez had spent his life wanting to become a police officer, and prior to joining Bal Harbour, had been a trainee with the Los Angeles Police Department, attending their academy. Unfortunately, before he could graduate, a family issue caused him to separate from the agency, and had to wait several years until the opportunity with Bal Harbour arose. The City of Bal Harbour has unofficially named the Haulover Bridge after Officer Melendez, there are still no road signs on the bridge commemorating him to this day. Officer Melendez is survived by his wife, two sons, and daughter.
In memory of Police Officer John R. Melendez.