Sergeant Bill Bectol
Costa Mesa Police Department
Sergeant Kevin Thomas
Fountain Valley Police Department
Officer Rick Bradley
Newport Beach Police Department
Deputy Harold Abe
Orange County Sheriff's Department
Sergeant Chris Tatar
Huntington Beach Police Department
Deputy Joe Medina
Orange County Sheriff's Department
Officer Chris Ned
Anaheim Police Department
In 1978, a group of police officers who loved to play football met to see if they could form two teams of police officers to play. The group, led by Costa Mesa P.D. Officer Bill Bectol, found they had another common interest. That interest was helping kids. The group of police officers decided to form a non-profit organization, organize two football teams comprised of members of law enforcement agencies from Orange County, hold a community event where these two teams played a full contact football game, obtain donations to support the event, and donate all proceeds to organizations that help kids.
It was decided that agencies from the north side of Orange County (Anaheim, Brea, Fullerton, Placentia, etc.) would organize one team and agencies from the south side of Orange County (Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, etc.) would organize the other team. Being that this game would be the game to designate county bragging rights, the event was deemed the “Orange County Cop Bowl.”
The first Cop Bowl game was held at Orange Coast College. The game ended in a tie score (0-0). Even though the game was not a big success on the scoreboard, it was a big success with the community raising thousands of dollars. The money was donated to the “Make a Wish Foundation” and other charitable programs designated to benefit kids.
Each year, the Orange County Cop Bowl grew in popularity and size. Events at the games included skydivers, SWAT demonstrations, police helicopter landings, and much much more. With the success of the original event, the organization flourished. Other North and South agencies (La Habra, Garden Grove, Newport Beach, Irvine, Tustin etc.) became involved in the organization. Santa Ana PD, Orange PD, and the OC Sheriff’s Department started teams. Santa Ana PD played Orange PD in the “Copper Bowl.” The OC Sheriff’s “Lawmen” football team played all who wished to play. Even though there were now five teams in Orange County, there was no coordination or league to set rules and game schedules.
The organizers of the O.C. Cop Bowl learned about other police teams in the Southern California area. One year, after the North / South Cop Bowl, the teams combined forces and played the LA County Fire Department football team in the first out of county game for either team. The game was a big success in that due to expanding budgets and decreasing player numbers, it brought the North Orange County (Stars) and the South Orange County (Cops), along with Orange PD and Santa Ana PD's team, together to form one team, the Stars. This combining of the teams turned out to be a great success, having a lot of fan and supporter interest.
The next year, the new Orange County Stars team played the Orange County Lawmen (OC Sheriff's Department) in the Cop Bowl game. At this time, Sergeant Bill Bectol, stepped down from the helm of the Orange County Cop Bowl Association and Sergeant Kevin Thomas of the Fountain Valley PD took over as President. Sergeant Thomas advanced the involvement of the Orange County Stars by arranging games against Los Angeles and San Diego based police and fire department teams.
With the expansion of the season and game schedule, the need for additional players and the cost proved that it would be best for all Orange County police football teams to merge and form one “All-Star” team. The Orange County Lawmen (OC Sheriff’s team) joined the Orange County Stars team and united under the banner of the Orange County Stars.
President Sergeant Thomas learned about a new police football league being started by two police officers in New York City. Sergeant Thomas contacted Lieutenant Steve McAllister (NYPD) and arranged for the Orange County Stars to travel to New York to play the NYPD Finest football team. The following year, the NYPD Finest football team traveled to Orange County and was the featured team in the Orange County Cop Bowl game. Because both games were huge successes, this was a start to a tradition of the Orange County Stars traveling across the country to play other police football teams.
Even with the expansion of the schedule, the focus of the Orange County Cop Bowl was to raise money to give to charities that specifically helped kids. The teams that the Orange County Stars played were police and fire teams who also donated all of their proceeds to charitable organizations.
On March 12, 1995, Officer Robert "Bob" J. Henry of the Newport Beach Police Department and a member of the Orange County Stars was critically wounded in the line of duty by a gunshot from a suspect. Approximately 33 days later, Officer Henry passed away from his injuries. Officer Henry is the only Orange County Stars/Lawmen player to be killed in the line of duty.
Officer Henry was not an exceptional athlete, but he was a very dedicated and hard working professional and a wonderful human being. It was decided that the Orange County Cop Bowl Association would do something to honor Bob’s memory. To honor Officer Henry, the “Bob Henry Memorial Scholarship” was established. The scholarship was set to find deserving kids from all over Orange County who were graduating from high school and deserving of receiving a scholarship. The Orange County Cop Bowl Association decided to try to find the “Rudy’s” of Orange County and help them go to college.
In 1995, Sergeant Thomas stepped down as the President of the team and Officer Rick Bradley of the Newport Beach PD took over as President.
In the fall of 1997, Officer Bradley traveled to New York to attended a meeting of the newly formed National Public Safety Football League (NPSFL). This league, which had been organized by Steve McAllister & Pete Moog NYPD, Joe Pyland Houston PD, Ed Lindsey LAPD, Mark Ramirez San Diego Sheriffs, and A.J. Matthews S. Florida, was comprised of police and fire department football teams from across the country. The common goal of the league and of the Orange County Cop Bowl Association was to play competitive football games, reduce or eliminate injuries to the players, and raise money for charity. Bradley found that this was an organized league that the Orange County “Stars” needed to get involved in.
In the spring of 1998, the Orange County Stars were re-named the Orange County Lawmen to compete in their first season in the National Public Safety Football League. The Orange County Lawmen have been valued members of the NPSFL ever since.
Deputy Joe Medina took over as President in 2012 of the Orange County Lawmen. He succeeded Deputy Harold Abe (OCSD) and Sergeant Chris Tatar (Huntington Beach PD). Deputy Medina was elected to the NPSFL Executive Board in 2014 and is currently serving as the NPSFL Director of Marketing.
To date, the Orange County Cop Bowl has raised over $1,000,000.00 to support their chosen charities. Additionally, the organization still honors Officer Henry with the Officer Bob Henry Memorial Scholarship, but also raises money and awareness for Special Olympics Southern California and Project 999. The organization is focused on continuing the great tradition of making a positive impact in the community.