On Father’s Day, Anaheim PD officer will celebrate legacy he will leave behind

By Greg Hardesty

When Anaheim PD Senior Master Officer Robert Wardle retires in October, the 56-year-old father of five will be leaving behind quite a legacy at the agency.

Specifically, four sons:

Officer Ryan Wardle, 33, is a nine-year veteran and a patrol officer.

Randy Wardle, 30, works in the jail as a correctional officer.

Riley Wardle, 28, also works in the jail as a correctional officer.

Reece Wardle, 21, is a rookie cadet who started at the APD in March and plans on following the lead of his father and oldest brother and becoming an APD officer.

You can imagine what the conversations will be like tomorrow at the Wardle household, as it always is during family get-togethers.

Lots of shop talk.

And on Father’s Day, June 18, the last one for Robert Wardle as a police officer, his sons and only daughter (Brooke Locken, 25, who broke the mold and teaches pre-school) will be celebrating dear old dad for setting a great example to them both on the job and at home.

“He set the bar high when we were growing up,” Randy Wardle said. “He taught us at home what it takes to be a Wardle.”

And three of Robert’s sons will be celebrated on Fathers Day:

Ryan has a daughter, Rogue, 2.

Randy has a daughter, River, 3.

And Riley has a daughter, Eevie, 7 months.

“Father’s Day is now a little more meaningful because three of four of us are now fathers,” Randy said.

Robert, who became a police officer at age 27 after he was laid off from his technician job at Rockwell when its B1 bomber contract ended, said retirement will be “different,” but he’s ready.

“It’s time,” said Wardle, who will end his career as a patrol officer. “This has been a great job — a fantastic job — and I’ve loved every minute, but it takes its toll on you.”

On him? What about his wife?

“I’m very proud of my husband and sons, but I don’t like (that they are all in law enforcement),” Bethann Wardle says. “The job’s too dangerous.”

How did this happen?

“They didn’t listen to their mother,” Bethann said.

The Wardle clan, (from left) Randy, Reece, Robert, Ryan and Riley. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Turning to her youngest, Reece, Bethann added: “I tried to talk my baby out of (a career in law enforcement), but he wouldn’t take the firefighter route.”

The Wardles aren’t the only father-child combo at the APD, just the most extreme example.

For example, robbery Det. Phil Vargas’ son, Matthew, recently joined the agency as an officer.

Sgt. Jesse Romero’s son, Nick, is a cadet.

Destiny Nunez, daughter of Officer Amador Nunez, is a police records specialist. Amador Nunez’s other daughter, Brianne, is a deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

But the Wardle clan takes the cake.

And their ties to law enforcement extend beyond the APD.

Riley’s wife, Aura, just started as a dispatcher for the Costa Mesa PD.

Robert’s nephew, Dennis Wardle, is an officer at the Garden Grove PD.

Bethann’s sister, Sherlyn Rodriguez, is a division secretary at the Fountain Valley PD.

Bethann’s brother, Jeff Secrist, is a CHP officer. Another brother, Jerry Secrist, is an LASD deputy. Bethann’s sister, Cindee Rummler, is a retired deputy for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department (who happens to be married to an L.A. County firefighter).

We know. A chart would be useful.

Robert said he didn’t urge his sons to pursue careers in law enforcement.

“It just kind of went that way,” Reece agreed.

Said Riley: “Seeing my brother (Ryan) go into law enforcement kind of pushed me more into wanting to do the same.”

The brothers heard a ton of cop stories growing up, which they said probably played into their career decisions.

Like the story about when Robert chased a suspect into an apartment, tackled him but crashed into a glass coffee table and cut his knee.

Or when a pursuit ended on the cul de sac right in front of the Wardle house.

“He knew his shift was ending and dinner was coming,” one son joked about his dad, who at the time was working undercover.

Robert Wardle, back in his undercover days at the Anaheim PD. Photo courtesy of Robert Wardle

Or the time Robert’s undercover vehicle, a green Mustang, got stolen from in front of the Wardle house.

“I was on the Crime Task Force at the time,” Robert said. “They found the car in Carson with gang graffiti on it. It was on bricks with all the tires missing. They stole my Christmas present, a Black and Decker workbench, and my Yanni CDs. What kind of gangsters listen to Yanni?”

Umm, what kind of cop does?

Originally, Randy planned on becoming a high school math teacher.

“He wasn’t very good at math,” Reece quipped.

Actually, while attending Cal State Long Beach and studying to become a math teacher, “The (APD jailer) opportunity arose,” Randy said, “and I weighed the pros and cons of it and decided to pursue (the APD position).”

Randy and Riley attended together a three-month correctional officers’ academy in Riverside and were hired by the APD on the same day three years ago.

Sometimes, the Wardles work with each other at the agency.

Robert and Ryan have worked three days together as partners on patrol.

Randy Wardle with his father, Robert. Photo courtesy of Robert Wardle

“I drove,” Ryan deadpanned. “I was too fast for him. We were already done with a call and he wondered what had just happened.”

Robert and Ryan also worked an Angels game together, with dad in the Halos dugout and Ryan in the Yankees dugout.

Last month, a 25-year-old man walked into the lobby of the APD just as Reece, who was working the front counter, was about to lock the front door at closing time, 8 p.m.

“I have information regarding a murder,” the man told Reece.

Reece summoned his supervisor, and the man was taken unto custody May 18 after he confessed to killing a homeless man, which led investigators to also link him to the death of a second transient.

“He seemed like a normal person,” Reece said of that eventful encounter.

Randy Wardle helped book the confessed killer.

Bethann said her husband is the “greatest” example of fatherhood.

“He’s good, honest, patient, kind, compassionate, thankful, humorous and hardworking,” she said. “He’s selfless. He lives and loves his faith, and has taught his kids to do the same.”

Ryan Wardle with his father Robert. Photo courtesy of Robert Wardle

She added: “His priorities are family, faith and work, in that order.…He lives what he teaches. He’s the best role model his kids could ever have. His kids are great because of his great example.”

Robert looked around the room, admiring his brood.

“I’m proud of them,” he said. “They’re good kids.”

The Wardle clan, from left Randy, Reece, Robert, Ryan and Riley. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC