Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series. The first half of this profile published Friday Oct. 20.
Transitioning to Hazardous Duty
I met Bob Kellar at Coco’s, his east side office, for breakfast the other day to obtain the rest of his story and this time Bob was at ease as he proudly discussed his transition from the U.S. Army to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). It was clear, that his decision was just meant to be.
As with being an Army soldier, he took to the LAPD like a fish to water. Bob applied with LAPD in September 1967 and after a barrage of physical and mental examinations over the next five months he was accepted.
On Feb. 25, 1968, Bob entered the world famous Los Angeles Police Academy for five months of law enforcement training.
“My Special Forces training went a long way towards LAPD accepting my application, although 90 percent of applicants at that time had military service,” Bob said.
Bob’s training was a rewarding life-changing experience. New officers learned their capabilities by succeeding at seemingly impossible challenges, both physical and mental.
New officers are trained in tactics, including control holds, baton use, firearms, driving and the law.
Physical fitness and self-defense training play a large part at the Academy; in fact, physical fitness is so demanding that recruits are encouraged to start a training regimen before entering the Academy.
For Bob, however, after his grueling Special Forces and underwater demolition training, the academy was pretty much a cake walk for him.
During one training exercise where the cadets were required to wrestle each other to the ground, simulating belligerent civilians, Bob caught an accidental head butt to his face.
“At our academy graduation ceremony, I was the one and only cadet to graduate with a black eye,” Bob said, grinning.
Security for Bob Hope
Following Bob’s Academy graduation in August 1968, he was assigned to the North Hollywood Division as a Patrol Officer where he began partnering with several officers for the next four and a half years.
One of those years, he was assigned to the “Special Problems Unit” where he worked plain clothes or in his uniform depending on any given assignment.
His squad’s priority was identifying crime trends and handling special events. One such event was providing wedding security for one of Bob Hope’s daughters at the St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood.
Nora Avis Hope and Samuel Boyd McCullagh Jr.’s reception was held at Bob Hope’s Toluca Lake home and both events required six uniformed officers and one sergeant, Jim Gibson, who was in charge.
Years later, as a city of Santa Clarita Councilman, while Bob sat at the dais he spotted his old pal, Jim Gibson in the audience.
Jim’s son had become an SCV Deputy Sheriff and was being honored for valor. Bob could not let this opportunity go without explaining to everyone what an excellent police officer his old friend was and that his son had come from reliable stock.
LAPD’s Swat Team
Following Bob’s Special Problem assignment, he was next assigned to North Hollywood’s Vice Unit, which was certainly a very different aspect of law enforcement dealing with some of the more unsavory elements in society. There was an 18 month limit on working vice.
In late 1972, Bob applied for a transfer to the Metropolitan Division. Metro worked throughout Los Angeles focusing on major crime patterns. Within Metro Division, was D Platoon which was known as Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).
The platoon was expanded from 40 officers to 60 and Bob wasted little time in requested a transfer to the unit. Perhaps his military training helped his acceptance to SWAT.
Once again Bob found himself in an outfit that never stopped training and preparing for the unexpected.
On May 17, 1974 the Symbionese Liberation Army, known as the SLA, decided to take on LAPD’s SWAT Team in Newton Division. It proved a huge mistake as the SLA lost every one of their members in that shootout. No LAPD officers were injured. Bob and his partner officer, however, were on a special detail guarding Mayor Tom Bradley at that time and ere therefore not involved.
Bob remained in SWAT for approximately three years and was promoted to Sergeant in October 1975, and then moved on to a new LAPD assignment.
Hollywood Division and Internal Affairs
“The Hollywood Division was never dull and for whatever reason all kinds oddball things happen there,” Bob said.
It was during this time that Bob met a new officer right out of the Academy; his name was George Thomas who is now the owner of Route 66 restaurant in Canyon Country.
Bob worked as a patrol sergeant, watch commander and, for about one year, as the Captain’s Adjutant before moving into Internal Affairs (IAD) in April 1968. Bob was promptly promoted to Sergeant II.
Internal Affairs was another tough assignment that had a limit on how long officers could work the detail. Two years and you’re out.
In 1983 Bob landed an assignment that he always hoped for – an instructor position at the Police Academy in Elysian Park next to Dodger Stadium. This assignment carried Bob to the day he retired in 1993.
Specifically, Bob was the Sergeant in Charge of the Reserve Officer Training Program that carried over to in-service training and oversaw the Department’s Chaplain Program.
The Chaplain, Father Mike McCullough, approached Bob one day and suggested a non-denominational chapel should be built at the Academy.
“What a great suggestion,” Bob thought.
Father Mike worked with other chaplains and a design was created which everyone embraced. Bob volunteered to take charge of raising funds through contributions since no tax dollars could be used.
They opened, and dedicated, the Chapel on Sept. 27, 1987 and it remains in operation to this very day.
“Knowing everything I know today, if I had it all to do over again, I would be a Los Angeles Police Officer,” Bob said.
Mayor Bob Kellar
Bob has lived in his Sand Canyon home for 38 years and in 2009, he married his beautiful wife Kathy.
Bob earns a living owning a residential real estate company, but his community service as a city of Santa Clarita Councilman and often as Mayor since the year 2000 has been a true honor and a privilege for him.
Bob loves our city and takes much pride in being involved in so many projects that has made this not only a business friendly environment but a wonderful family-oriented community.
The highlights of his service include his efforts and the city’s effort to stop CEMEX mining, creating our Arts Commission, the cleanup of the Whitaker-Bermite property, and expanding our parks and recreation facilities that have improved our quality life.
Bob spearheaded the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall event a few years ago, which was one of Santa Clarita’s most patriotic events. He also spearheaded our City’s Hometown Banner Program that honors all local current serving military personnel.
But above all, he takes immense pride in leading the way to have “In God We Trust” inscribed on the wall at city Council Chambers. May God continue blessing you Robert C. Kellar. You are a true asset to the city of Santa Clarita and a great American.