Friday, June 5, 2009

Bill “Schepp” Nemec Retires

The "Immediate Past President" of the San Diego Police Officer's Association; Detective Sergeant Bill "Schepp" Nemec has called it a career. Bill started his career with the San Diego Police Department as an intern. Some of you may remember your first encounter with the little guy as a court car driver; taking officers and detectives to and from 801 W Market Street and the Court House. Bill entered the academy and began a long and distinguished career fighting crime and serving the citizens of San Diego. Bill worked at Central; Southeast; Mid-City; Street Narcotics; Robbery; Sex Crimes; Domestic Violence; SWAT. He worked patrol and investigations and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Bill was known as a hard charging, detail orientated officer who was always the first to cover others and offer to help out. Bill joined the SWAT team and was well respected for his abilities and a calm, easy going demeanor. Bill's hard work paid off and he was promoted to Detective and quickly landed in Street Narcotics. Bill soon became an expert in Under the Influence arrests; sales cases and with his long locks of curly hair could buy any kind of narcotics from the most seasoned dealer. Bill was a great actor and could convince Eskimos to buy ice in the dead of winter.

His SWAT experience paid off in Point Loma one Friday afternoon while serving a Search Warrant. Street Narcotics was serving a warrant on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard at a small apartment across the street from the Jack in the Box at Voltaire and Sunset Cliffs. Detective John Fung was the first one through the door; followed closely by Detective Nemec. Just as Fung entered the door, the suspect began to fire a 45 cal semi automatic handgun. The first round struck Detective Fung dead center in the chest. The shock of the round hitting Fung in the chest knocked him backwards into Nemec, who was charging into the apartment. Bill grabbed hold of Fung, pushed him to the right and began to return fire as the suspect continued to fire in the direction of the front door. The suspect ran down a short hall toward a room as he fired. Bill continued to fire at the suspect; providing cover for Fung and the other officers who were stacked at the door. The suspect made it to the room and shut the door. More shots rang out from the room. Cover fire was provided as Fung was removed from the apartment and the scene secured for SWAT. John Fung was saved by the raid jacket; receiving a large bruise to the center of his chest. The suspect had been struck by Bill's rounds and died on the floor in the room he had run into.

I joined Bill in Street Narcotics a couple years later, during the wildest of times for Narcotics in department history. The unit went from two teams to five in February of 1986. Rock cocaine and PCP sales and use was increasing and San Diego was classified as the "Meth Capital" of America. We would serve 25 search warrants a week and before we were done with the paperwork on the sellers we had taken off the street, a new dealer would set up shop to take over for the crook we put behind bars. We would do weekly sweeps making arrests for crooks that were under the influence. Bill's expertise helped guide the unit and provided the training and mentoring for those of us who were new to the unit. He was a true leader who always provided the calm and reason to the wildest of scenes. His humor kept things light and allowed us to channel our energy.

Bill moved to Robbery Investigations where he again excelled. Long tedious surveillances; detailed reports; interview after interview; a tenacious, dedicated investigator who never gave in or gave up, in the pursuit of justice. Sex Crimes was short a couple of the detectives and were seeking volunteers to assist with mounting cases. Bill volunteered and soon made a name for himself with his ability to put cases together and get suspects to confess. His stint in Sex Crimes was short lived (He could not wait to get back to Robbery, truth be told) and was quickly back in the saddle chasing the worst of the worst.

Bill was promoted to Sergeant and headed back to patrol. Mid-City was in the cards. We again worked together on the same shift along with Terry Degelder, Bill Frew, and Andrew Hoffman. Wild times again and some great police work. Bill was the calming force at critical incidents and the silent leader. Bill would always downplay his involvement and force praise on others. He was always uncomfortable with praise and being in the spot light.

Bill moved back to Investigations; Domestic Violence was his calling. He led a team of detectives handling a mountain of un-ending cases. He was soon the person to be called for help by patrol sergeants needing guidance and advice. Bill sought election to the SDPOA Board of Directors. He was elected in a land slide; conformation of his popularity and the respect he had from officers of all ranks. In 2005 Bill was elected President of the SDPOA Board. Tough times and negotiations that ended with an imposed contract of take aways, made for a rough first year. In August of that year the SDPOA began a series of law suits aimed at stopping the actions of the City related to FLSA violations and the imposed take aways from officers. Bill was the leader who stood in front of an angry, frustrated and defeated membership; trying to make sense of the City's actions and what actions the SDPOA would take in response. Bill remained positive and was always the "Peace Maker" in meetings and negotiations settings. While directors vented to department brass or politicians, pissing people off and knocking tables over, Bill would be the calming voice of reason helping to maintain these relationships.

Bill's tenure as President was challenging and humbling. He survived one of the hardest times in history due to the economic downturn and a political mess within the City of San Diego that saw the Mayor resign; a lunatic elected to City Attorney and a new mayor (ex-chief of police) elected who quickly showed he was no friend of police officers. To add to the struggles; the City was wrestling with a 1 ½ Billion dollar unfunded liability for its Employee Retirement System. During all this; Bill maintained his professionalism, integrity; compassion and sense of humor.

Bill was recognized tonight by hundreds of well wishers, colleagues, friends and family. He was joined by Sergeant Alan Hayward who also called it quits after 29 ½ years. Bill will be missed but not forgotten. His sense of humor, integrity, professionalism and experience will be missed. While the mayor is happy to exchange this experience for enthusiasm; he should take a closer look at those like Bill Nemec who have the vast experience necessary to lead a competent police department who have more enthusiasm after 30+ years of service than many of the new officers being hired.

Enjoy the good life Bill; you have earned it. Stay healthy and enjoy the next chapter in your life. It was an honor and pleasure to have served with you. You are one of the good guys who made a difference in the lives of many. Thank you and good luck my friend!!!


Partner in Crime said...

Congratulations Brother.... Enjoy Retirement!!

Smokin Joe said...

Job well done little guy!!! Who would have thunk? Congrats Billy