It’s one thing, as a father, to have nine kids.
It’s another matter, entirely, when all nine of your children end up becoming cops — just like dear old dad.
“I never expected this to happen,” says Mike Reyes Sr., 74, a retired deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept.
We don’t know who’s keeping records, but the Reyes family, originally of Rosemead and now scattered throughout Orange and surrounding counties, definitely is a contender for biggest law enforcement family ever — and that’s not even counting in-laws, cousins and other relatives who became cops.
When Ron Reyes, 39 — kid No. 8 in the clan — recently received a lifesaving award at the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept.’s Medal of Valor luncheon, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens did a double-take when several of his relatives took the stage to pose with him for pictures.
Reyes, a Harbor Patrol training officer who was honored, along with Sgt. David Haldeman, for reviving an 85-year-old man who had suffered a heart attack, was joined by his parents and seven of his uniformed siblings.
The stage practically creaked under all the cop gear.
Roberta Granek, 53, the oldest of the Reyes kids, is a lieutenant with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept.
“We don’t have a coat rack,” she says of family get-togethers at homes.
“We have a gun rack.”
Veronica Reyes, now 73 and a retired bank employee, has been married to Mike Reyes Sr. for 54 years.
Not only did she have to worry about her husband choosing such a dangerous profession, she had to relive the worrying nine times over as each of her kids — five boys and four girls — did the same.
“I just put them in God’s hands, and had faith He would take care of them,” says Veronica, who with her husband put all of her children through private Catholic schools (she went back to work after Ron was born).
“That doesn’t mean the mom side of me didn’t worry about them,” Veronica says. “Any time I would hear sirens I would worry, but then when I didn’t get a phone call I would think, ‘No news is good news.’”
When Ron Reyes’ wife, Kathrina, first met the OCSD deputy three years ago and he told her about his cop-centric clan, “my mind was blown,” she says.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what they all do,” Kathrina says, “but it scares the heck out of me every day. How many people do you know that risk their lives on a daily basis for no other reason than the benefit of everyone else, let alone an entire family who does this?
“It’s pretty remarkable to be around so many people who have dedicated themselves to public service.”
It all started, of course, with Mike Reyes Sr.
Actually, he credits a great uncle, Francisco Andrade, who joined the LAPD right after World War I, for starting this remarkable family tree of law enforcement officers.
Mike Reyes Sr. also says inspiration came from his two older brothers, both of whom went into law enforcement. Robert is a retired LAPD sergeant, and Rick served with the Glendale PD and is a former councilman and mayor of Glendale.
At first, Mike Reyes Sr. was happy driving buses, just as his father did.
One day at work, when Mike was around 27 years old, a guy mentioned that he had flunked the LACSD test (he had a bad back).
That got Mike thinking.
He had toyed with the idea of following his brothers into law enforcement, but he thought he was too short (5 feet 8 inches) and two scrawny (127 pounds).
He decided to give it a go anyway.
Mike flunked his first time, passing the written test but not the orals.
Determined, Mike waited the required six months before trying again, and this time he passed. But to get hired, he needed to bulk up for the minimum required weight at that time of 142 pounds.
Mike was 15 pounds short.
So he gorged himself for days, and when the big day came to weigh in and he found himself four pounds short, he skipped bathroom breaks all morning.
He made it — tipping the scales at 144.
Then he spent a lot of time that day in the bathroom.
OK, here’s what happened next.
Eldest child Roberta was working as a court clerk in L.A. and her dad was working as a deputy at the courthouse when she broke the news to him.
“I took the (LACSD) exam,” she told him.
Ever since she was 7, when she saw her dad graduate from the police academy, Roberta knew she wanted to do what her father did.
But she never exactly talked about it much — and her father never encouraged her (or his other kids) to become police officers.
When he heard the news, Mike Reyes Sr. recalls, “I was kind of glad; I was happy for her.”
Roberta’s recollection is a little different.
“You didn’t say that at the time,” she says.
And so it started.
“It didn’t bother me after that,” Mike says of his kids deciding to go into law enforcement.
The second-oldest Reyes child, Michael, followed his sister’s lead, but chose a different agency — the LAPD, where he served for seven years before deciding to become a firefighter. Michael Reyes now is a nine-year veteran of the L.A. County Fire Dept.
After Roberta and Michael, third-eldest Reyes sibling Edward followed his sister and, in 1999, was sworn in as an LACSD deputy.
Then it was Yvonne Reyes’ turn.
She was the stubborn one, adamantly telling her siblings and parents she never wanted to go into law enforcement.
Yvonne was working at a bank, just like her mother, when she told older sister Roberta she was thinking of taking a test to become a custody assistant, a non-sworn position.
“Why are you doing that?” Roberta told her. “Take the sheriff’s department test. A deputy makes more money and gets more benefits.”
Yvonne Reyes is an eight-year veteran patrol deputy with the LACSD.
Sibling No. 5, Paul, is a sergeant with the Carlsbad PD. He was the second of the Reyes kids to go into law enforcement, in 1993 (Roberta started with the LACSD in 1991).
Then there is Rebecca, sibling No. 6 — an LACSD deputy with 16 years on the job.
Kid No. 7, Joseph, has been a deputy with the LACSD for 14 years.
Ron Reyes joined the OCSD in 1998. Like Roberta, he knew he wanted to be a police officer at a young age.
“I was in elementary school, and dad would come home with his briefcase and there would be handcuffs in it,” recalls Ron, the father of two small boys.
The youngest Reyes child —- Yvette, 38 — has been an LACSD deputy for eight years.
Doing the math, the combined years of law enforcement experience of the nine Reyes siblings and their father totals 164 years — and counting.
And that total doesn’t include Roberta’s husband, Michael Granek, an LACSD deputy assigned as a pilot to Air Rescue 5.
Oh, and for the record, four of the Reyes siblings followed their father by serving in the military before becoming cops.
Mike Reyes Sr. was in the Navy.
Michael was in the Naval Academy in Annapolis and became a naval officer, and Paul, Joe and Ron enlisted in the Coast Guard.
As the oldest of the Reyes kids, it makes sense that Roberta also is the highest ranking.
“They make fun of me all the time,” she says.
As a lieutenant, she’s an investigator assigned to Internal Affairs and is angling for a promotion to captain.
Besides Roberta’s husband, Michael Granek, OCSD Deputy Ron Reyes is considered to have the coolest assignment of the Reyes siblings, patrolling Newport Harbor for the last seven years.
Between them all, the Reyes siblings have been assigned to virtually every aspect of law enforcement — K9, gangs, etc. — although none have served as an SRO (school resource officer).
You would think that at family get-togethers, the chatter mostly would be about work — cops trading cop stories.
But the Reyes siblings say their jobs don’t dominate discussions — mostly, like on Father’s Day, it’s all about catching up with family.
None of the Reyes siblings have been injured on the job, and none have been involved in high-profile incidents, such as an officer-involved shooting.
“We’ve been very, very blessed with that,” Roberta says.
Says her father: “I’ve been punched in the face a couple of times and got a cut above my eyebrow.”
As for noteworthy cases, Mike Reyes Sr. handled a homicide while working as an LACSD deputy in Pico Rivera.
Oh, and Michael Reyes was featured on an episode of “COPS” before he became a fireman.
Mike Reyes Sr. and Veronica Reyes have 23 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Only time will tell if those 26 also become cops.
For now, Mike — who retired in 1999 — and Veronica Reyes will settle for nine kids as cops (ok, technically now eight).
“I’m proud of all of them,” Mike Reyes Sr. says. “They did well.”
“It’s a great thing they do — helping people,” Veronica says.