BART Police Commander Dan Hartwig stood in a Walnut Creek gas station as discreetly as he could for a man as tall as Mount Diablo. Square-jawed, buffed, he seemed the icon of the old-school super cop.
He watched stoically as competing rallies across the street argued over the professional soul of his former colleague Johannes Mehserle. The two groups screamed at each other in 90-plus-degree heat, with some nasty insults aimed at the very authority Hartwig represents.
“We’re here for the right reason,” he said, acknowledging that he shouldn’t be talking about it. “We’re here to support the city of Walnut Creek and anyone else who needs our help.” Including officers in and out of uniform who were rallying for Mehserle or were on crowd-control duty. “At the same time, it’s very emotional. Until you walk in a police officer’s shoes and experience what it’s like … All the things you think are easy … are difficult.”