His career started with a stint in the military. “A U.S. Marines recruiter called and I went to see him. The next thing I knew, I was in boot camp,” according to Lozano.
And when asked how he became a police officer, he said, “I had just come back from active duty in the Marines and a friend said ‘Let’s apply to become SFPD.’ I made it and he didn't and the rest is history. I have loved being a cop since I got hired in 1991 and it has been a great fit for me.”
He continued to serve in the U.S. Marines while being a cop. After 29 years of military service, he retired from the Marines in October 2014, but his life as a cop continues.
Lozano has been assigned all over San Francisco in various police beats since 1991. “I have been stationed in various districts, serving as a Field Training Officer training recruits in the police department and Terrorist Liaison Officer. I also worked in Special Operations and Security (SOS) now called Homeland Security and was also with the department’s Special Operations Group (SOG) as a sniper for 17 years.”
Stuff Made For Movies
His career has been like a movie, Lozano reminisced. “I've been shot at, assaulted, spit and yelled at. I have had hundreds of police car chases and even more physical confrontations with suspects. Having worked in the Mission and the Potrero, there was always a police chase on foot or by car and a police officer was always yelling for emergency back-up.”
He’s viewed as an adrenaline junky by his peers. Younger cops would say, "Work with Angel -- he will get you in a foot chase, fight, or vehicle pursuit.”
He would only say, “All I wanted to do was catch the bad guy.”
Hazards Of Police Work
Life as a cop has many hazards: “I was on every call imaginable – whether it’s a hostage situation, barricaded suspect, active shooter, etc.” He has suffered numerous back injuries and been hit by a total of five drunk drivers while on patrol.
“The most severe injury occurred at 16th and Mission Streets as I was getting into the driver's side of a patrol car. After handling a physical confrontation between two drunks in the Mission District, I was getting into my car when I saw a car speeding in the lane where my car was parked.
“As the car started getting closer, I noticed that it was not slowing down. I was about to run towards the front of my car but, unfortunately, there was another patrol car parked five feet in front of mine with an officer loading items in the trunk. He was unaware of the speeding vehicle as his back was facing towards the oncoming car. I yelled ‘MOVE!’ and pushed him away from the hazard.
“The drunk driver collided with the rear end of my vehicle as I was just jumping out of the way and my vehicle hit my right leg and threw me against a wall. After the drunk’s car hit mine, it shot my vehicle into the patrol car that was in front of mine. The drunk collided with our vehicles with so much force that totaled both patrol cars beyond repair.”
Nothing, however, could have been more dangerous than when he went undercover. Lozano was an accomplished undercover buy officer, which meant he bought narcotics for years from drug dealers throughout the city and personally arrested thousands of drug dealers in both his uniformed and undercover capacity.
“The most recent injury I was in 2010,” he recalled. “During narcotic buy operations, I would be assigned a team which consisted of a close cover officer and an arrest team. The close cover officer watched over me and viewed the incident to make sure I didn’t get hurt.
“One certain incident occurred at 16th and Mission Streets. I was buying crack cocaine from two parolees. After our transaction, I gave my close cover officer the bust signal. When he came to arrest both suspects, they started fighting with him and then the suspects split up. One started running south on Mission Street while my close cover stayed with the other one. With only two officers that day, the arrest team chased the suspect running on Mission Street and eventually placed him in custody. That left my close cover with the task of arresting the other suspect.
“As the close cover approached him to make the arrest, the suspect resisted and fought as though he was already high on dope. I watched and tried not to get involved to protect my undercover status –- plus I did not carry a radio, gun, handcuffs, bullet proof vest or any police gear on these assignments. This makes a narcotics buy officer's job more dangerous than almost any other assignment as this means having no protective gear.
“My close cover fought with the parolee drug dealer strung out on dope, but he started to lose ground. I decided to assist in effecting the arrest as we had no way of calling for extra help. As we struggled to place handcuffs on the suspect, he got into a position where he kicked me on my back causing me severe pain. We eventually placed the suspect in custody, but the injury resulted in my being on disability for about one year. “
With the back injury from 2010, Officer Lozano could no longer continue his undercover work. That’s when he became a motorcycle cop, though that did not slow him down.
“As recent as September of last year, I chased a violent ‘Wanted Suspect’ in a stolen car. I was riding my police motorcycle on Highway 80 when I spotted the suspect who was wanted for multiple home invasions in the Sunset District.
“These suspects are more dangerous than the average criminal as they break into a residence while there are people in the house rather than an unoccupied home,” he stated.
“I chased him as he fled and purposely rammed into 10 vehicles and also tried to collide with my motorcycle. At one point, he pointed his gun at me when I was riding next to him on the freeway. He veered towards the city streets until his car became disabled and he ran on foot. We finally caught and took him into custody after the chase.”
Although any police beat can be tough, there are days when being a motorcycle cop can be filled with hoopla. Motorcycle cops often get called to escort citizens in the city. His most memorable time the past year was when he and his team escorted President “Noynoy” Aquino during the Philippine leader’s famous stop in the Haight/Ashbury district to get a McDonald’s burger and check out Amoeba Records store on his way to the airport. Proof that motorcycle cops sometimes do have fun!
Riding motorcycles, however, is a dangerous task for cops who are on them most of the day. The motorcycles outfitted in police gear weigh a total of 950 pounds, which requires special skills in riding around tight corners as well as good reflexes in volatile circumstances. Lozano was able to maneuver his motorcycle fairly well and eventually became an instructor for the SFPD motorcycle unit. He also started joining motorcycle competitions.
“I started riding in motorcycle competitions in and out of California, in cities like Carson City and Las Vegas, as well as Canada and Florida where they provide me a motorcycle for the competition. In one instance, I got on a Harley Davidson Road Kings, which I had never ridden before, but I picked it up very quickly. I felt I had a knack for riding as I was getting 1st, 2nd or 3rd place amongst up to 150 other competitors.”
Lozano won first place in a popular police motorcycle competition in Fairfield, California earlier this year. (See video for a dizzying ride on the obstacle course with Officer Lozano.)
He and police comrades thought a few years ago about “getting a competition started in the most beautiful city in America, right here in San Francisco.”
“We wanted to establish a competition for motorcycle officers to sharpen their skills in riding a police motorcycle. San Francisco has one of the largest motorcycle units in the West Coast.”
With experience in setting up events in the Marine Corps behind him, Lozano chaired and organized the SFPD’s first two Annual Competition in 2013 which has been up and running since.
“It is one of the most successful motorcycle events in the nation. We were able to get officers from Canada and Mexico to compete in our event, which will keep growing as more riders from all over attend.”
A Life Of Service
Protecting the public certainly comes at a price. Lozano has received awards both in his duty as a U.S. Marine officer and as a cop for the SFPD, and it goes without saying that it involved sacrificing time with his family.
He has received lifesaving awards, including Officer of the Year from both city and state officials, for evacuating buildings during fires and for making numerous arrests in the district.
“But I would not have been able to accomplish everything that I did were it not for the sacrifices and loving support of my wife Marieshelle, and my children, parents and siblings.
“Between the SFPD and the Marines, I have spent my days on call and away from my family more than anyone can realize. There were times when SFPD would call in the middle of the night because of a shooting –- I would have to get out of bed and respond.
“When I was in the U.S. Marines, I was charged with overseeing Marines from age 17 and up, watching over their wellbeing. I would get phone calls in the middle of the night when one of my men got into trouble with the law or had personal or family problems.”
Looking into the future, Lozano stated, “I know I am not young anymore. I still try to keep fit by working out and running, but the days of me fighting a parolee every night have come and gone. Though I want to solve the city’s problems and rid it of crime, I have to step back and let the younger generation take over.”
Officer Lozano plans to retire when he turns 55 years old so he can enjoy more time with his family. Until then, if you happen to see a Filipino motorcycle cop with a U.S. Marine Corps flag waving from his bike, that would probably be Officer Lozano making his rounds to help keep the streets of San Francisco safe.
Manzel Delacruz is a freelance writer living in San Francisco.
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