Ryan Coe loves new challenges, a trait he displayed when he was barely out of his teens.
The standout high school baseball player was working odd jobs and figuring out what to do with his life when his friend asked him for a ride to a military recruitment office.
Coe, then 20 — too old to realistically pursue a career as a professional baseball player, he says — eavesdropped on his pal’s conversation with the recruiter, and soon pulled up a chair next to him.
A few minutes later, Coe (along with his friend) enlisted in the Air Force, keeping the decision a secret from his family until the day before he had to fly out of LAX.
“I love jumping in with two feet and saying, ‘I’ll figure things out,’” Coe says.
Coe is doing that again following his recent promotion to lieutenant at the Tustin PD, an agency he joined in 2006 after serving four years in the Air Force as a military police officer and third baseman (for two years) on the national All-Air Force Softball squad.
Coe’s new position, created two years ago after the TPD decided to equip its officers with body-worn cameras, is strictly administrative. He’s in charge of several projects, chief among them replacing the agency’s CAD-RMS, for computer aided dispatch and records management system.
That $1.5-million upgrade is expected to be a two-year project.
“The technology is out there,” Coe says. “It’s my job to find it.”
He’s brand new to this behind-the-scenes police work, but very game.
“Somebody has to do it, so why not learn it?” says Coe, who was appointed to lieutenant on June 11 and was sworn in July 19.
That’s the same philosophy Coe took to his last assignment: sergeant of the Traffic Unit.
Coe had never ridden a motorcycle when he was assigned to run the TPD’s team of four motor officers, a civilian traffic collision investigator, a records technician and four part-time parking enforcement personnel.
“I wanted to make my weaknesses my strengths,” Coe says of volunteering to transfer as a sergeant to the Traffic Unit. “It was a major challenge for me. I couldn’t do it on my own. I had to rely on those guys. They taught me more during those 3 ½ years than I ever taught them as a sergeant there.”
Coe is big on building camaraderie. During his tenure as Traffic Unit sergeant, he hosted Christmas parties for staffers and their families. Members of the unit also enjoyed regular RV vacations together.
Coe also spiffed up the offices that house the Traffic Unit, adding a shelf where people who leave the unit place their signed helmets indicating years of service.
“I want people to take more pride in the units (they’re assigned to),” said Coe, who grew up in rural Castaic on his grandmother’s 40-acre, farm-like spread. His mother abandoned the family when Coe was a toddler, taking Coe’s older sister but leaving behind Coe, a younger brother and his father, a construction worker.
He never really got to know his mother and sister; they moved to South Dakota when he was 12.
Like most teens living in the Santa Clarita Valley, Coe’s first job was at Magic Mountain.
After high school, Coe moved in with his best friend in Newhall. He painted houses and performed other odd jobs, but always had to hit up his grandmother for money to pay the rent.
When Coe drove his buddy to the military recruitment office, he saw an opportunity to change all of that.
When his father, a man of few words, drove him to LAX as he headed off to the Air Force, he said something Coe didn’t expect.
“For the first time in my entire 20 years, he said, ‘I’m proud of you, son,’” Coe recalls.
MEETING THE PRESIDENT
Coe was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in Kern County during his four years in the Air Force. A highlight was in 2002, when President George W. Bush paid a visit to Bakersfield. Coe was among several military police selected to guard Air Force One.
Before getting back on the plane, the president shook hands with the MPs and gave each of them an Air Force One presidential coin. Coe’s coin is among several commemorative coins in his new office at the TPD.
Other projects on Coe’s to-do list include helping to select towing companies for the TPD to contract with, reviewing proposals from prospective suppliers of security cameras throughout the Tustin Civic Center, and updating the printed maps officers refer to when on patrol.
Coe’s lifelong baseball skills continued at the TPD. He played softball for several years on So Cal Alliance, the multi-agency team that included Tustin PD Deputy Chief Jeff Blair and the late TPD Sgt. Del Pickney, the founders of PoliceSoftball.com.
So Cal Alliance has won five championships in the Police Softball World Series; no other team has won more than two. Blair and Pickney founded and ran for several years the Police Softball World Series, an international event that features more than 1,000 players from 30 states and Canada.
After Pickney died of a heart attack on Feb. 22, 2018, Blair asked Coe, now 38, to become co-director of PoliceSoftball.com.
Of course, Coe jumped right in.
His motorcycle helmet from his stint as sergeant of the Traffic Unit still is in his office. It will be placed on the shelf in the Traffic Unit once Coe takes his traditional “final ride” with colleagues —- probably in August.
Coe said his time in the Traffic Unit was the most fun he’s had at the TPD.
“There’s just something different about having your own unit and having everybody moving in the same direction with the same vision and same goals and working cohesively as a team,” he says.
Coe had some memorable cases while working as a Major Crimes detective for five years before promoting to sergeant in 2013.
Coe dove into another challenge head first:
He and his wife, Ashley, who teaches Spanish at Beckman High School in Tustin, got married six weeks after they met. They’ve been married for 16 years and have two children, a girl and a boy.
Coe credits a lot of people for his success at the TPD.
“I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in right now without my traffic guys,” Coe says. “Those guys were superstars — they made me look good every day. I owe a ton to Jeff Blair and Del Pickney, as well as (recently retired Deputy Chief) Paul Garaven, who was my tactical officer in the academy. He saw me all the way from the academy as a recruit through my promotion to lieutenant. He’s a good guy — one of the smartest people I know.
“I also have a hugely supportive family and supportive wife, and my in-laws live two minutes from me. My mother-in -law is kind of the mom I never had.”
Coe is still getting his feet wet as a new lieutenant, but he appears to feel very confident about the assignment.
“There are two things cops hate: change and the way things are,” Coe says, a phrase he credits to Paul Garaven. “But I love change. You have to look at it as an opportunity….
“I’m very excited to see what the near future holds in store for me, as well as the next 10 or 15 years for the department, because I think organizationally right now, we’re actually in a very exciting place.”