Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Chief of Police William M. Cann

Union City Police Department, California

End of Watch Thursday, August 29, 1974

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Reflections for Chief of Police William M. Cann


fmr UCPD Explorer/Retired Deputy Vaughn

August 29, 2022

I was a cadet, 1973-1975,
The night Chief Cann was shot I was hanging out at the station. A call came in saying people had been shot at the church, possibly including the Chief.
We had a red phone called SNARE that connected the five bordering municipalities together for coordination during chaos. I made the call requesting help, ran to the back of the station, opened our arms locker, grapping rifles and Vietnam era body armor, meeting patrol cars and loading them as they sped in from other beats.
I spent several hours of the station roof with a rifle until someone realized having an 18year old cadet providing perimeter security was probably not the best place for me.

Cadet, Thomas Hastings
Union City Police Department

May 28, 2022

I began my new job as a Dispatcher for the Union City Police Department on the day of Chief Cann's funeral services. I was very humbled to be amongst the dedicated Police Officers during this very troubling time of their careers. I remember Officers Al Guzman (who hired me), John Miner and Joan Honebein very well and admired and respected every Officer on the force in that they were able to continue their positions with the utmost honor, integrity and professionalism. Chief Cann would be very proud of each and every one of you and will never forget how proud I was to work with the Officers of the Union City Police Department and to put on my own uniform each night before going to work. I have the utmost respect for Police Officers everywhere; they sacrifice everything to protect the citizens of their cities and counties. Please honor the Police Officers and Firefighters in your own communities and remember that they are also citizens just like you and I are.

Brenda Foster, Dispatcher
Union City Police Department, 1974-1975

April 5, 2021

My Dad John “EJ” Coady was an officer at Union City from 1966 to 1977, I remember him leaving the house in a huge rush that day kid,. Then in 1989 it was strange , my brother Matt and I were on leave from Germany, We were sitting in the living room talking about that, and my dad stopped mid Conversation and said “what’s the date?!” “I’ll be damned”, “that was 15 years ago today”!, I’ll be damned! He was one of the pallbearers, i’m glad they caught the murderer six years later.

SSG(R) Kevin Coady US Army
my Dad John “EJ” Coady 1966-1977

January 17, 2021

I remember when Mr. Cann worked with my father at the Novato Police Department before he left to become chief in Union City. He was always one of my favorite officers. It was a very sad day when my family heard the news that he had been shot, and then when he died. I had never seen my father so sad before. R.I.P. Chief Cann.

Michele Lafferty
Mike Lafferty's daughter

November 6, 2020

Rest in peace always knowing that your service and sacrifice are forever remembered by your fellow law enforcement.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

August 29, 2020

Rest in peace Chief of Police Cann.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

December 28, 2019

I was an Patrolman in Union City. I worked for awhile under his leadership. I went to another department shortly before his murder. I found him to be a good leader and doing his best to quell the unrest from the latino community that had plagued Union City for a number of years.

Patrolman Greg Moore
Union City

November 1, 2019

I was a young man living just a few blocks away from the church where the Chief was assassinated by those cowardly excuses for men. Rest assured that these creeps not only lived useless lives before the crime, their remaining years are to be spent in pursuit of an even more meaningless and empty existence behind a wall. Their names would've evaporated like the slimy fungus living inside their black hearts had it not been for their cowardly actions. I took a law enforcement class as a senior co-taught by a police officer (Schwartz?) who went on to become chief in Morgan Hill.

Critchfield - civilian
Union City Police Explorer 1973

January 7, 2019

Rest In Peace Brother in Blue. You are honored and remembered on the 44th anniversary of your EOW.

May the scum that took your life suffer and rot forever.

Officer Mike Robinson (Ret.)
Upland Police Dept. CA

August 29, 2018

I was a citizen present at the meeting where Chief Cann was shot and three other people were injured, including one next to me. It was one of the most terrifying events of my life, so I followed news reports closely in the months ahead. It is my recall that, shortly after the shooting, a group called the Chicano Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the events of that evening. Whether there was ever a proven connection to the suspect who was eventually charged and convicted of the killing, I don't know. But I was also following the very open claims of the Symbionese Liberation Army around that period of time. And, to my knowledge,, there was never any claim or suggestion of their involvement in this tragic event.

Susan Starkey
Attended meeting where this occurred

May 4, 2016

Today, Easter Sunday, 2016, my wife and another two friends were discussing the recent acts of international terrorism. In 1964 I was a rookie with the Marin County Sheriff's Office, assigned to the Jail when I first met Bill. I was immediately impressed by him: his appearance, demeanor and professionalism. I shared with them Bill's homicide while he was trying to calm community tensions in Union City. My recollection is that the perpetrator was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army and that cyanide-filled hollow-point bullets were used. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

Sgt. Weldon C. Travis (retired)
Marin County Sheriff's Department

March 28, 2016

I remember this day so well. The Cann Family lived across the street from us. I remember us kids were playing outside. He was washing his car and said, see you later kids. gotta emergency at work. We all said bye Mr. Cann see you tomorrow. Next I remember our street was full of black limo's lined up and down the street. Men all in black tux's. They were a private family. Then they moved like over night. It was a sad day on this street when we learned he was killed. I wish the Cann family well. RIP Mr. Cann.


January 27, 2016

I was working for an ambulance company that contracted with Union City for emergency services. My work partner and I lived in Union City, a relatively small town back then, and responded to all ambulance related calls there. We would stop by the police department frequently for coffee and conversation. Chief Cann and I had many conversations and he mentored me about entering law enforcement as he new my dad, a local sheriff's Lt.

Do to the unrest within the city over the "justified" shooting of an Hispanic male by a police officer and some threats made towards the police, my partner and I and another crew member stood by while the Chief attended a community meeting at a church to explain the circumstances. He was shot, along with a few residents in the audience. We responded and transported Chief Cann and a female to the hospital.

I later became a UCPD reserve officer for four years, then a police officer at San Mateo PD for 24 years where I retired from, then five years as a deputy sheriff in San Mateo County and retired from their in 2009.

Of all the horrific ambulance and law enforcement calls I responded to in my career, none had more impact on me than this one, personally and professionally.

Dennis Woollum
Police Officer San Mateo PD (Ret), Deputy Sheriff San Mateo S.O. (Ret)

September 22, 2012

Rest in Peace, Chief Cann. Your sacrifice is not forgotten.

Officer 11169

January 23, 2012

Billy was my Mom's nephew - his mom was my mom's sister. I was seven when this happened, and have always wanted to get to CA and see the park.
Billy's mom Marie and and my mom Dolores had a falling out many years ago. If any of his family wants to get in touch, please feel free to contact me [email protected].

Jeanmarie Golden Lombardi
Great Niece

May 28, 2011

Chief hired me in early 1973, soon after he became the Union City Police Chief. I liked him from the first conversation we had and my admiration for him increased as I got to know him better. He would always tell his officers, in his New York accent, that we were the best, Bar None. Chief Cann worked hard to make the department better and to provide the best possible police department for our troubled city.

The Chief was very brave and often ventured out alone into the most dangerous part of town, which also happened to be my beat, to talk with citizens on the street. I would get concerned about his safety and would cruise by his location to check on him but he would wave me away as I drove up.

On the night he was shot I drove past the church hall where he was meeting with citizens, but I did not see anything suspicious in the darkness around the hall so I continued on to a call on the other side of my beat.

When the radio call came out of a shooting at the hall, I suspected that he had been shot and raced to the scene. I was the first officer to arrive and gave Chief Cann first aid. I so wish that I could have done more for him.

Chief Cann remained in a coma until he died in late August. I was honored to serve on the Honor Guard at his funeral service. My heart felt so heavy to watch his wife, Liz, accept the folded U.S. Flag that was presented to her. The Chiefs mother, Mary, and his two young children were also present.

Chief Cann was a caring, hard working Police Officer who had a positive effect on his officers, the department, and his community. He could have accomplished so much more.

I think about the Chief very often since that terrible night in June 1974. Since his death, Ive kept a photo of Chief Cann in my home and look at it often and think of him and those dangerous times. Rest In Peace

Tony Montemayor
Police Officer (Retired) Union City PD

Tony Montemayor - Police Officer (Retire
Union City Police Department

May 13, 2011

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 35th anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was murdered on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Rest In Peace.

Phyllis Loya


August 29, 2009

As my career's end is coming closer, I decided to check and find those who had lost their lives during the year that I was hired. While it's been many years since your passing, I'm sure those you left behind and those whom with you served with distinction have kept you alive in their memories. Thank you for your service and for looking out for us who continue in our chosen profession. Rest in peace Chief Cann.

Sgt. Robert J. Mau Sr.
PD Joliet IL

December 18, 2008

A wonderfull re-dedication to you at the park that bares your name was held today (9-27-08). A new granite plaque was unveiled, because someone stole the original bronze plaque dedicated many years ago.
You were remembered fondly by all that knew you, and your legacy touched those of us that did not know you.

When ever I am at the department, and see your portrait hanging proudly within, I have to stop for a moment and think about how you wanted to make Union City a better place, and for that you paid the ultimate price by the hand of a cowardly assassin.

R I P. Chief Cann.

R.P. Glausch
UCPD civilian volunteer

September 27, 2008

"The Badge"
He starts his shift each day
To respond to calls unknown.
He drives a marked patrol car.
A police officer he is known.
He's paid by the citizens' taxes
To make it safe on the streets.
But he usually has a second job
'Cause a waitress has his salary beat.
Now he doesn't know a holiday
'Cause he works all year round.
And when Thanksgiving and Christmas finally arrive
At his home he cannot be found.
He's cursed and assaulted often,
The one whos blood runs blue.
He seldom ever gets a thanks,
To some he's just a fool.
His friends are always other cops
'Cause people just don't understand
That underneath his badge and gun,
He's just another man.
He knows there might not be a tomorrow
In this world of drugs and crime.
And he gets so mad at the court system
'Cause the crooks don't get any time.
And each day when he leaves for work,
He prays to God above.
Please bring me home after my shift
So I can see the ones I love.
But tonight he stops a speeding car,
He's alone down this ole' highway.
It's just a little traffic infraction.
He does it everyday.
Well, he walks up to the driver's window,
And his badge is shining bright.
He asked the guy for a driver's license,
When a shot rang through the night.
Yes, the bullet hit its mark,
Striking the officer in the chest.
But the Department's budget didn't buy
Each officer a bullet-proof vest.
So he lay on the ground bleeding.
His blood wasn't blue - His blood was red.
And briefly he thought of his loved ones
'Cause in a moment the officer was dead.
In the news they told the story
Of how this officer had died.
And some who listened cared less,
But those who loved him cried.
Well, they buried him in uniform
With his badge pinned on his chest.
He even had his revolver,
He died doing his best.
Written By:
David L. Bell
Richland County Sheriff's Department
Columbia, South Carolina
Used with Special Permission of the Author
Copyright © 1999 - All Rights Reserved
and may not be duplicated without permission

Investigator David L Bell
Richland County Sheriff's Dept., Columbia, SC

September 20, 2007

I had worked at the department just over a year in my quest to become a police officer. I was off duty but was at the department to ride a shift with one of the officers. We were in the middle of breifing when the on duty dispatcher yelled down the hallway that the chief had been shot at his town hall meeting. Chief Cann was a very confident man and had achieved the rank of Police Chief at a young age. He felt that he could mediate the community tensions through talks with community leaders. Unfortunately that night he was gunned down. I stayed at the front desk for the following 24 hours dispatching and taking phone calls from around the world. For those that knew him he will always be remembered and missed. My prayers still go out to his family.

Gordon Rupp

Cadet Gordon Rupp
Union City Police Department

February 4, 2005

Chief - It's been years and I think about you and your Men all the time, what a troubled kid I was then. On that night I was there -not there - but at Howies and heard.. I was not even 18 years old and had a son , but I lived a lifetime that night. I'm married to that same kid, you know him - he went into the Navy and did 20 years. We have 3 kids and 7 Grandkids. Back in Union City. I really wish you could see the Good that you did and what the results have been. I think you would be very proud.

November 20, 2004

Paying my respects to you, Chief Cann, and remembering you today, the 30th anniversary of your death. Rest peacefully in God's care.

Concerned Citizen

August 29, 2004

I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the Cann family and the officers of the Union City Police Department over the tragic loss of Police Chief William Cann. After all of these years you are still remembered and will never be forgotten. May you rest in peace. Never forget the fallen hero!

Ofcr. Dan Winger

May 21, 2004

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