It is not every day that a police officer can boast that he garners the respect and trust of a community. For Southwest Philadelphia Officer Richard “Butch” Riddick, this is the reputation he has earned in a community he has served for 18 years.
Recently, Riddick was notified that he was the winner of the 25th Annual Fencl Award, which is given to officers who exemplify the qualities of compassion, fairness and civic commitment.
A street cop for the 12th District of the Police Department, Riddick was taken aback when he found out he was the winner, he said.
“I never really looked at myself as something special,” he said. “I’m really kind of overwhelmed by all the attention.”
Riddick has even received phone calls from people he doesn’t know congratulating him, he added.
Street cops are often overlooked when it comes to receiving the award, and past winners commonly are of higher rank.
“We never win stuff like this,” Riddick said, “I mean, we get awards throughout the police department, but never a community-based oriented award.”
Al Johnson, a longtime family friend and Southwest Philadelphia resident, feels Riddick should have won the award earlier.
“He deserved it,” he said, “How can I keep saying how good he is? He just always has been.”
Riddick winning the award brought credibility to the award itself, Officer Mark Moore, Riddick’s partner, said.
“It didn’t seem as though a person in our type of street business would ever receive that type of award,” Moore added.
The two have been partners for 14 years, and have become like brothers, Riddick said.
“We argue like husband and wife sometimes, just to get the job done,” he added.
Dressed in plain clothes, Riddick and Moore patrol the neighborhoods in the Southwest community, checking on the residents and shop owners. They deal commonly with burglaries, robberies and shootings as well, Riddick said.
“We go where the crime is,” he added.
Through breakdowns in the neighborhoods, the officers can pinpoint where they need to do patrolling, Moore said.
A lot of the time, the officers receive tips from the residents themselves so they know where to patrol, Riddick said.
By building strong relationships with the residents, Riddick and Moore have cultivated a bond among those they are on duty to serve and protect, which many younger officers don’t have the patience to do, Riddick said.
It is important to listen and follow up with the community’s residents, he added.
“It’s more than just a job for him,” Shawn Williams, a Southwest Philadelphia resident, said. “He’s out here to look out for us.”
Ken Blakeney, owner of Unisex Hair Salon located at 5632 Chester Ave., is another Southwest Philadelphia resident who recognizes the good that Riddick tries to bring to the community.
“A lot of people really understand that he’s for justice and truth,” Blakeney said. “They understand that he just wants to clean the streets up and do a good job.”
In 2006, Riddick helped solve the murder of Cecil Snead’s son. Snead is the owner of Auto Tires & Brakes Inc. at 5305 Woodland Ave. Since Riddick’s help in solving the murder case, the two have developed a close relationship, Snead said.
“If I need anything I can call on him, and I feel happy to know that he’s getting this award,” Snead said, “I think he’s the type of person that deserves to have this award because he gets the utmost respect.”
The close bond that Snead has with Riddick is common among the residents of Southwest Philadelphia, whether from good or bad experiences.
A resident of 5400 Regent St., Demond Bynum has known Riddick for 18 years and wasn’t always on his good side, he said.
“From all the years of us being acquainted, he watched my life make a transition,” Bynum said. “We had our run-ins, but we still kept a level of respect.”
He is one of the few officers who residents maintain a level of respect with as well as a line of communication, Bynum added.
“I talk to these guys more than I talk to my commanders,” Riddick said.
Another Southwest Philadelphia resident, Karen Williams, said that her grandkids call Riddick “uncle.”
Riddick’s partner for 14 years, Moore can attest best to the close bond that Riddick has with the residents in the area.
“He has done so many remarkable things to bring communities together, neighbors, people,” Moore said. “Without his input and diligence things would still be in disarray.”
He attributes all of his skills and expertise of the streets to his younger brother, Officer Eric Riddick.
A West Philadelphia resident all his life, Riddick became a cop because he felt it was right, he said.
Everything he learned came from his brother and he continually strives to be as good an officer as Eric Riddick, he added.
“They got it halfway right,” Riddick said. “If they would have picked my brother, that would’ve been a home run.”