Saturday, January 22, 2005

John MacPherson, R.I.P.

Mac was the kind of police chief we needed back in the riot days... He was a great guy...

Friends Mourn Loss of UCSB Police Chief - Daily Nexus Online


Chancellor Yang wrote this about Mac:

Dear Colleagues:

I am deeply saddened to share with you that our colleague and friend
John L. MacPherson, Jr. (better known to many of us as "Mac") passed
away at his home on January 14. He had been with the UCSB family for 33
years as an officer, sergeant, lieutenant, and Chief of Police.

Chief MacPherson will be remembered for his many extraordinary
accomplishments. He began his law enforcement career serving as an MP in
the United States Army during the Vietnam War. After three years at the
Salinas Police Department, John came to UC Santa Barbara in 1970,
becoming a sergeant in 1973 and a lieutenant in 1978. He then
transferred to the UC Davis Police Department. John returned to the UC
Santa Barbara Police Department in 1979. He was appointed the Acting
Chief of Police in 1985 and Chief of Police in 1987. John retired as
Chief of the UCSB Police Department in early 2004.

John was always "student friendly." He brought sensitivity, respect, and
sound judgment to every challenge he faced during his tenure here. In
the face of any difficult situation, he was a calming force. We were
fortunate to have his leadership and guidance of our Police Department.
John was well liked by our students, highly respected by his colleagues,
and loved by his friends. He will be greatly missed.

His memorial service will be held on Thursday, January 20, 2005. The
details are listed below.

Hospitality and remembrance hour
10:00-11:00 a.m.
Funeral service with full police honors
11:00 a.m.
First Presbyterian Church
21 East Constance Avenue

Interment ceremonies with full police honors following services
Santa Barbara Cemetery
901 Channel Drive

In lieu of flowers, the MacPherson family has established a scholarship
in his name. If you wish to make a contribution, please make it payable
to the UC Regents, with an annotation directing it to The John L.
MacPherson, Jr. Scholarship Fund, and mail it to:

Development Office
Attention: CFO
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-2013

John's lasting legacy here at UCSB is his dedication to the safety and
well-being of our students and all the members of our campus community.
Our hearts go out to his wife, Cindy, and his sons, Matthew and Brian.
We are grateful to them for sharing John with us for so many years.

Henry Yang


  1. In late 1971 I was KCSB-FM's Isla Vista Bureau Chief, and often spoke with "Big John" when I would pass by the Foot Patrol Office.

    One afternoon I was showing KCSB'FM's News Director and my roommate, Steve Logan (who sadly died a few years ago) around I.V. When we got to "The Feet's Office" I specifically introduced him to John.

    Around 11 that night, Steve was driving me to a late dinner in his VW Van, going East on Hollister. Suddenly we saw half a dozen police cars going the other way, lights and sirens. We thought about turning around but decided since there wouldn't be another newscast until the next day, and the problem was in Goleta and not I.V., we'd blow it off.

    Suddenly there was a police car behind us, bright lights blinding us as they lit up the entire inside of the van. A siren started up, so we pulled over, Steve complaining that he hadn't been speeding. As we pulled to a stop, we heard someone on a megaphone yelling, "Get out of the car. NOW!"

    So Steve jumps out of the car and, as he was rather hyper in those days, strode rapidly towards the rear and the cops. The next thing I heard (from the passenger side seat) was "FREEZE!" then a pause, and "You in the car! Get out. NOW!"

    I was so scared I couldn't get my seatbelt unbuckled, and the continued screaming over the bullhorn didn't help. Finally I get out and walk slowly towards the rear of the van with my hands up, into so many bright spotlights, flashlights and headlights that I couldn't see a thing except dark figures. Finally I saw a couple of deputies including... Big John.

    I yelled "John! It's me!" and started to lower my hands while I kept walking toward him. "Hands Up! Get your hands UP!" he shouted, pointing his shotgun at me.

    Well, you better believe I stopped short. My hands went up and I actually stood on my tiptoes, not breathing, not sure if I was about to die by a shotgun blast.

    Slowly John lowered his shotgun, most of the lights went out, and he explained. There had been an armed robbery at the 7-11 on Holister west of Storke Rd. The kid at the counter said it was a VW van, so obviously when they saw us tooling along Holister heading away from the scene in a similar car they figured we were the bad guys.

    I asked John the next time I saw him how close he was to pulling the trigger on his shotgun. He said, "Not close. Well, not THAT close." Still, it was a near-death experience for both Steve and me. And Steve's comment was, "Knowing you, I'm surprised John didn't shoot. It was probably because he had just met me that he refrained."

    It was a fun memory (in retrospect).

    Anyway, John was always a fair cop who was willing to talk to and listen to people who had a very different world view than he held. He was a straight shooter, and I am sorry he is gone, long before his time.