The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Featured Story

September 11, 2013

Remembered: EPD Sgt. Rick Tanner called trusted and reliable officer

ENID, Okla. — Friends and co-workers of Enid Police Department Sgt. Rick Tanner remember the 15-year veteran of the force as a trusted and reliable officer, as well as a compassionate family man.

Tanner, who unexpectedly died Saturday, joined the department Feb. 9, 1998, and received five commendations during his career. He was awarded a letter of recognition Nov. 15, 2012, for the arrest of a federal fugitive and seizure of marijuana and cocaine.

Tanner spent the majority of his career with the department’s Narcotics Unit and was named Association of Oklahoma Narcotics Enforcers Region V Officer of the Year for 2004-2005. He was a longtime member of the organization.

He is remembered by his fellow officers as someone who could be depended upon.

“I worked with Rick most of his career,” Capt. Dean Grassino said. “Rick was one of those guys that always had your back. Rick was one of those guys that was always there for you.”

Grassino said he and Tanner became good friends. He helped Tanner with a home remodel, and Tanner helped Grassino move after his father passed away.

“We were always there for each other,” Grassino said, “doing one thing or another.”

He said Tanner always enjoyed a good prank. Grassino said he always will remember a time the Narcotics Unit went to Western Sizzlin.

“We all went out to eat and we’re all sitting around the table,” he said. “He picked up a buttered roll and he looks at (Eric) Reddick and throws it right at his forehead. Rick just said, ‘Watch this.’ We still laugh about that to this day.”

Grassino said Tanner was well known throughout the state for his work in narcotics enforcement.

“That’s what he enjoyed doing the most, is working narcotics,” he said. “He knew everybody in the state. Through all the drug investigations he had friends at the federal, state and local level. There wasn’t anybody that didn’t like him.”

Grassino said Tanner’s death has impacted many.

“He’s going to leave a void,” he said.

Lt. Ryan Singleton worked with Tanner for about five years in narcotics, and another four on night shift.

“In 2002, we worked narcotics together for five years, kicking doors and putting bad guys in jail,” Singleton said. “He was just a good guy. He’d be there for you if you needed him. He was always joking around, didn’t take life too seriously.”

Singleton recalls a time when he and Tanner had to wrestle with a man who was cooking methamphetamine.

“He was cooking some drugs in his house and we end up getting in a wrestling match with him, and we get him under control and we look at each other and we don’t have handcuffs,” he said. “I had to run to my car and get a set of handcuffs and come back. When we finally get him in custody, Tanner asked, ‘You got a radio?’ I said no and had to run back to the car to get a radio to tell them we had one in custody.”

Singleton also recalled a time when Tanner was the target of a practical joke, orchestrated by himself and Capt. Kevin Morris.

“He (Tanner) was always sensitive about anybody touching the things on his desk,” Singleton said. “We took this mouse we’d caught and placed it under his coffee cup. He comes in and he was irritated. He said, ‘Why did you guys touch my coffee cup?’ He picks up the cup and the mouse flies out onto him and crawls up his arm.”

Singleton said he spent hours and hours on surveillance with Tanner during their time in the Narcotics Unit.

“Rick was always in a good mood, always had a nice grin,” he said. “He was just a good, stand-up guy.”

Sgt. Justin Hodges also worked narcotics with Tanner for about three and a half years, with Tanner as his supervisor.

“He taught me a lot. I learned a lot from him,” Hodges said. “I looked up to him a lot when he was my boss. He always believed in me and always had my back.”

Those who worked with Tanner most recently on night shift remember how proud a father he was.

“He loved his kids. He was always talking about his kids,” said Officer Lee Frisendahl.

Sgt. Kevin Bezdicek said one of Tanner’s proudest moments was seeing his son Matthew score a touchdown this year.

“He said that was the proudest moment he had as a football dad,” Bezdicek said. “He smiled ear to ear when Matthew did that. He dreamed of his son going on to play for Enid High like he did.”

Bezdicek said Tanner always was willing to share his knowledge from narcotics enforcement, especially with teachers.

“He was big on going to those teacher-orientation meetings each year and teaching them about what gangs to look for and what prescription pills looked like and how kids acted if they were abusing them,” he said. “He got a real kick out of teaching that. It was always on his own time, too.”

Bezdicek said Tanner was “very proud” of his wife, Shawna, being named Enid Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2011.

“He did everything he could anytime his wife needed something at school,” he said. “He was always there. He was a huge family guy. Nothing was more important than his wife and two kids.”

Lt. Warren Wilson said Tanner always was compassionate toward victims of crime.

“He was real attentive with victims. He was real dedicated to that,” Wilson said, noting the sergeant was willing to spend as much time as needed to make a victim comfortable.

Wilson said Tanner also shared his knowledge of narcotics enforcement with the officers on his shift.

“He taught the guys a lot of narcotics enforcement, which is really difficult,” he said. “Even after he left narcotics, he knew who all the players were in town.”

“He was a fun boss on nights. He always wanted to go out and find some dopers,” Officer Robert Fleer said. “He was always teaching me things because he was in narcotics for so long.”

The three recalled a story about Tanner from his time in training. One night, Tanner’s field training officer stopped him and said, “I’ve just been shot. What are you going to do?”

“It’s a test for the officer to see if they know where they are,” Wilson said. “It’s to see how they react under stress.”

The lieutenant said the exercise is meant to teach new officers to be aware of their surroundings so they can give their location over the radio in an emergency.

Bezdicek said Tanner reacted — just not in the way the FTO expected.

“He turned on the lights and sirens and took off,” he said. “They asked him, ‘What are you going to do?’ He said ‘I’m taking you to the hospital.’”

“No one had ever come up with anything like that before,” Wilson said with a laugh.

The three also said Tanner was never one to seek out credit.

“It was like he was never trying to get the credit for things,” Fleer said. “He just liked to see bad guys go to jail.”

Lt. Eric Holtzclaw, who also worked with Tanner on night shift, said he respected the sergeant’s passion for his work.

“What I really respected about him was he always wanted to get into the mix of things, he was very in tune with what was going on and wanted to be involved in various activities, especially dealing with identifying and arresting drug users and sources,” he said. “He wasn’t afraid to get involved.”

Holtzclaw described Tanner as a “down-to-earth guy.”

“He always carried a good demeanor and a good mood,” he said. “Despite any issues going around him, he never seemed to have a chip on his shoulder and always seemed to look at the positive side of things.”

Sgt. Quent Tubbs said he remembers Tanner speaking of the time he spent with his family.

“He would always talk about his boy. He would always talk about his daughter,” Tubbs said. “He was always open about his love for his family.”

Tubbs was on duty when Tanner died and made calls to notify other members of the department Saturday.

“I called people that day and it was like hitting them with a sledgehammer. It’s just a shock to everybody,” he said. “He was someone who was loved in the department. No one spoke ill of Tanner.

“He’ll be missed.”

The funeral for Tanner will be 2 p.m. Saturday at Oakwood Christian Church, 401 N. Oakwood. He will be laid to rest at Memorial Park Cemetery.

The funeral procession will leave from the church north to Willow, east onto Van Buren and north to Memorial Park Cemetery.

Funds have been established to assist the Tanner family.

An education fund at NBC Bank has been set up for Emily and Matthew. Contributions can be made to the Tanner Education Fund. Contributions also can be made at any Security National Bank location, to the Family of Police Officer Rick Tanner Fund.

Text Only
Featured Story
  • Child Tax Credit_Hass.jpg House votes to boost child tax credit for some

    With nearly all Republicans voting in favor and most Democrats opposed, the bill cleared the House by a vote of 237-173. The White House threatened to veto the bill, though the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to pass it.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Oil-Covered Owls_1_JN.jpg Caretaker: One of 2 oil-covered owls has died

    Jean Neal and her husband, Jim, of Fairview, have been caring for the owls since Tuesday, July 22, 2014, when they received them from Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, which is investigating the incident and the death of several other birds found at a neglected oil field tank site.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Virginia Storm_Hass.jpg 2 dead, dozens hurt after storm at Va. campground

    "All hell broke loose. We got an emergency message on a cellphone and within 30 seconds, the thing hit and it blew down 40, 50 trees in the park." — Joe Colony, who has been coming to the campground for 30 years

    July 24, 2014 7 Photos

  • money.jpg Affordable Care Act 80/20 rule will provide refunds to many Oklahomans

    According to Alex Kotran, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Oklahoma residents will get $6.7 million in refunds from health insurance companies this summer.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oil Drilling Earthqua_Hass.jpg Oil company geologist to talk Okla. earthquakes

    Continental Resources' Vice President of Geology Glen Brown will deliver a luncheon address Wednesday to members of the Oklahoma Geological Society.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Disaster 4117 - Logo.jpg Cities, states scramble to spend grant money

    More than half of the federal disaster funds being offered to Oklahoma for recovery from the violent storms of 2013 are in the form of community development grants.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Health Overhaul Subsi_Hass.jpg Ruling endangers health subsidies

    A 2-1 that could mean premium increases for more than half the 8 million Americans who have purchased taxpayer-subsidized coverage under the federal government and not by state markets.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • label logo.jpg Study: 1 in 4 Oklahoma kids live in poverty

    Nearly 1 in 4 Oklahoma children live in poverty and the number of children living in high-poverty areas has more than doubled since 2000.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Garner.jpg Family, friends recall James Garner’s Norman roots

    Norman resident Roy Hamilton, who grew up with Garner, said he remembers him as being well-liked and a great person who never lost his Oklahoma roots.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • capitol tease.jpg Studying cannabis

    Oklahoma Legislature slates interim looks at its medical use

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot
House Ads