La Habra Police Corporal John Jaime signed off on his last radio call on Friday, Nov. 8 after almost three decades with the Department.
At 50, Corporal Jaime doesn’t look much different than the rookie cop who walked through the doors at La Habra PD at 22 years old. But after 27 years of catching the bad guys, Jaime is the first to admit – he’s ready to retire.
“I was trying to make it to 30 years … but, I think 27 is close enough,” said Corporal Jaime on his last day. “I’ve given everything to this career. I waited until I finally felt like I could leave. I’m ready now. Some tell me I am leaving behind a legacy. I am happy to have made it, but leaving here is surreal.”
For those who know Corporal Jaime, some consider him a role model. He’s described as tough, reliable, a good friend, a good person and most of all, resilient.
He’s a cop who patrolled the streets in a black and white during a time when La Habra was rife with gang activity. Jaime was a part of the police force that helped turn La Habra into the quaint town it is today.
Like most officers, Corporal Jaime’s career came with highs and lows.
When you ask him what his high was, he is quick to talk about the friendships forged at the La Habra Police Department, including the one with his K9 patrol partner Paco, a Belgian Malinois, who became more to him during their eight years as a team.
“He was my four-legged friend who was always by my side. We would ride single-man units together and he was a partner I could always count on,” explains Cpl. “And when I was shot on duty, he was there for me. He was my support dog and never left my side.”
Those who enter a career in law enforcement prepare for routine calls that can turn into a life- threatening situation. This moment happened to Jaime on April 10, 2005 when a call came in and he was shot in the line of duty. His dog, Paco, waited for him in the car, barking loudly and trying to get to him.
Cpl. Jaime survived and came back to work, but the experience lingered — not only in his mind, but also in his body, since doctors were never able to remove the bullet. Their hope was it would continue to move through the years until it was in a place where it could be safely removed.
“John is a great leader in the field and in his personal life. John’s legacy is one of loyalty to God, his family, and our profession,” said Lt. Jim Tigner, a friend and colleague.
Cpl. Jaime continued to work, keeping his focus on the job and being present for his wife, Angeline, and their three kids, Morgan, Johnny and Joseph.
But in 2007 and then again in 2017, Cpl. Jaime was involved in calls that involved him having to discharge his weapon at a suspect. Both times he found himself asking if it was time to retire. His body ached and he and his family had several long talks about his future in law enforcement.
It was on April 11, 2019, almost 14 years to the date Cpl. Jaime was shot in the line of the duty, that he went into surgery to remove the bullet in his body. While he had always planned on retiring close to 50, the timing of the bullet finally being ready to be removed wasn’t lost on him.
“It just ended up happening this way,” said Cpl. Jaime. “I realized it a few weeks before the operation and at the time, retirement was still just a thought. But as I laid on the operating table, I was an emotional mess. I was off work for a few months afterward and when I went back I realized my time had just come.”
What the future holds for Jaime he still hasn’t decided on, but he does know it involves spending more time with his friends and family.
“I am happy my husband is finally ready to retire,” said Angeline, Jaime’s wife who has been with him since 1988. “Every day he walked through our front door and then came back at the end of a shift was such a relief for me. I am so proud of him and thankful he had so many brothers in blue watching over him. We look forward to what the next 27 years bring for our family.”