Photo courtesy the West Covina Police Department

Police officers in West Covina Saturday began wearing a black band over their badges to honor an officer who was killed 77 years ago in a traffic crash while pursuing a suspect on his patrol motorcycle.

Police personnel began wearing the black band over their badges at 6 a.m. Saturday and will conclude the effort at 6 a.m. Sunday in memory of Officer Frederik Ham, who was one of the city’s first officers. He was hired in 1938 and assigned badge “Motor Officer 2,’ said Officer Rudy Lopez of the West Covina Police Department.

Riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Ham was patrolling Holt-Garvey Avenue — now the San Bernardino (10) Freeway — when he attempted to stop a speeding vehicle about 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 9, 1940, Lopez said.

While pursuing the motorist, the police officer collided with another driver at Francisquito Avenue. Paramedics rushed him to an area hospital, where he died of his injuries at about 6:15 p.m. The driver of the speeding vehicle was never apprehended, Lopez said.

A street sign with Ham’s name on it has been erected in the area of the crash, he said.

The West Covina Police Department is also dedicating and renaming the department’s Traffic Office in honor of Ham with a dedication to take place at 9 a.m. Monday in the department’s Assembly Room, 1444 W. Garvey Ave.

The dedication coincides with the 77th anniversary of Ham’s death, Lopez said.

Ham, born June 22, 1908, in Naarden, Netherlands, attended the University of Holland and briefly lived in South Africa before moving to the United States in 1930 and took up motorcycle riding as a member of the Pasadena Motorcycle Club.

He was posthumously inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000.

—City News Service

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