Retiring cop reflects on challenges, rewards of job


All his life, Bob Conklin wanted to be a cop.

After nearly 36 years, the Anaheim PD captain this week is calling it a career – retiring with what he says is a true sense of accomplishment.

And he’s leaving with a few battle scars – some visible, some not.

During his career, Conklin has worked 23 different assignments and has been commander of each division of the APD. He also graduated from the FBI National Academy and Command College.

“You need to know when it’s time to leave the party,” says Conklin, whose last day is July 31.

Although the rewards of the job have been great, there’s a flip side to law enforcement, says Conklin, 58.

“It can be a messed-up profession.”

Conklin isn’t disgruntled – far from it.

He’s referring to a side of law enforcement the public rarely sees.

Like the time Conklin, who before joining Anaheim PD spent two years in Hemet as a police officer, was taking a college course and had to leave the classroom to field a call concerning a child victim of a homicide.

“Here I am, negotiating with the DA’s office and the coroner about whether to allow the harvesting of this child’s organs, and then a few minutes later I have to go back to class and act like nothing happened,” Conklin says.

For cops, “just business” means learning to cope with some of the scariest and most heinous realities of society – as well as the stress that comes with it.

It’s all part of a police officer’s job, Conklin says.

So, too, are the rewards – and during his career at the Anaheim PD, Conklin has enjoyed many.

Like the time when, at the ripe age of 51 and the rank of captain, Conklin put himself through the rigors of motors school to be able to patrol alongside his son, Bob Conklin Jr., now a 36-year-old community policing officer.

Or the time when Conklin’s testimony in Sacramento helped lead to a new law making it illegal to surreptitiously film up women’s skirts. That law followed a notorious case in which a man was detained at Disneyland but had to be released when there was no law on the books that made the act of so-called “video voyeurs” illegal.

Conklin, a former sergeant and jumpmaster with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Infantry Division, perhaps is most proud of helping to make a difference in the lives of survivors of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault.

While working as a detective sergeant on the sexual assault/family crimes detail, he relished helping put bad people away for doing horrible things.

But Conklin says it wasn’t until the establishment of the Orange County Family Justice Center in 2006, a priority of former Anaheim Police Chief John Welter, that Conklin felt his agency was making a big difference in helping survivors.

“Now we’re making damn sure we’re doing as much as possible to help these victims,” Conklin says. “As a police officer, you hope you can make a difference, and I know that with the Family Justice Center, we have.”

Conklin says he’s looking forward to spending more time with wife, Kelly, an Anaheim Police lieutenant, two grandchildren and two dogs.

Despite high praise for the Anaheim PD – “We hire the best, and it shows,” Conklin says — he has no plans to remain involved in law enforcement.

He glances at two empty boxes in his office and the shelves and walls of memorabilia he still needs to pack.

“When you leave here, the most important thing is not the cases you did, or the promotions,” he says, “but the relationships you’ve made along the way.”