The Origin of “This is True”

When I had to change the name of this publication (anyone who got it under the original title, This Just In, is someone I consider an Old Timer among readers: I dropped it in April 1995!), I wracked my brain for a new title. But I’m not sure I’ve ever told the story about where “This is True” originally came into my life.

When I was a teen, I was a police cadet in Menlo Park, Calif. My favorite cop at the department was Officer Armand Lareau, who didn’t seem to mind helping to teach a bunch of weird kids about police work. “This is True” was his catchphrase.

Need an example? Pimply-faced cadet: “That guy looks out of place there.” Armand (as he had us call him): “This is True. Get a backup unit headed this way.”

Bringing It Back

When I was searching for a new title, I rejected dozens of ideas until his catchphrase came to mind. I decided it would work, and I’ve built a tiny little empire on it.

Why tell the story now?

A Menlo Park Police car parked behind the station c1975. (Randy Cassingham)

When cadets did ride-alongs with Armand, he let us work the radio. His police radio call: 857. This week marks the 857th issue of this publication, which reminded me of Armand and the round-about place “my” catchy title came from.

I had lost track of Armand over the years, so I was never been able to tell him this story. Until I mentioned this story in the Premium edition, that is! Within an hour of publication, a reader sent me Armand’s address, phone number, and email address — and several others sent some or all of that information over the next several days. I’ve dropped Armand a line.

Thanks, Armand: my experience as a cadet helped shape who I am today. Your influence lives on in this publication in a number of ways. And This, as they say, is True!

– – –

Alas, but I never heard back from Armand. A follow-up message bounced, so I don’t know if he got the first one or not. Update: he died in 2023, at 80.

– – –

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11 Comments on “The Origin of “This is True”

  1. What a great story. Armand obviously made a positive impression on you that has lasted a long time. So nice to read something like this – thanks for sharing it here! I know you will update us as you reconnect with Armand!

    Yes, definitely will update it if I hear from him. -rc

  2. I headed up the Police Explorer Program at our department while I was protecting and serving, although I preferred the unofficial slogan, to seek out and destroy. I hope my influence upon the young men and women (I hated it when they called them kids), leaves as positive of an indelible mark as Armand did on you, that they will remember me after the many, many, many, years.

    That you saw them as young men and women, not kids, makes that pretty likely, John. Thanks for being there for them. -rc

  3. I have fond memories of the Police Explorers and was truly heartbroken to discover my uncorrected eyesight did not fall within the 20/40 required. My mother, who had driven me despite her worries about my desire to become a cop, was happy when I dropped the Explorers, at least until I told her I was going into the Army (computer programming not as a MP).

    Nowadays, watching the various crime scene shows, I wish I had stayed with the Explorers and gone into some support job, I remember both of our cops, one male, one female (there was a big push during the late 70s for female cops) and while time has taken their names, their quiet professionalism, their willingness to tell us the truth; sometimes with the (infamous) cops’ humor; and being there to talk. The night I found out about the vision requirement, a speaker had come in and mentioned there being one but not the numbers. When I asked after the meeting if Las Vegas/NLV had the same rule I teared up and turned away, it would have been easy to ignore it, I hadn’t broke into tears after all and I am sure they had their own lives to go to, but both stayed until my, always late, mother showed up telling me to check out other jobs, like dispatch, that I was too upset to listen to at the time.

    When I saw this column I was instantly back there, sitting with a couple dozen HS students of both sexes and all colors getting along and helping each other. I was an Air Force brat, racially mixed schools and programs were the norm for me, it was only after I went into the Army and talked to those from non military backgrounds that I began to understand how unusual that was. Thirty years later I still have the greatest respect for cops, for any ‘serving’ job like firefighters, EMTs and, of course, the Military.

    You seem to be about my age, so it’s not too late: there are lots of helpful tasks you could perform in a good department, even if “just” as a volunteer. -rc

  4. When I was 10 years old, my father had died and I was getting out of hand. My mother called the police and they referred her to Sgt. McCafferty. He truly hated seeing kids going bad.

    One afternoon he stopped by my house and asked me if I wanted to go for a ride in the cruiser. Like a kid is going to say no! So, off we went and ended up at the station. Now, I came from a small town, only seven police officers and a small station. He took me for a “tour” and let me into one of the three cells. Next thing I knew, he closed and locked the door and walked away. There I sat. I yelled, cursed, screamed, cursed some more, pounded on the bars, and eventually after several hours, the Sgt. came back and sat down with me and we talked for quite some time. He then took me home.

    To this day (over 50 years later) I can still remember the sound of that cell door closing. Sgt McCafferty told me what it would be like for someone as young as I was would be like in “the system”. In those days they did not have all the protections they have today.

    He told me that if I ever needed someone to talk to he would always be there. I used to see him on a regular basis. As I sit here at the ripe old age of 63, I can say I have never been arrested, nor spent another hour of my life in jail. I know had it not been for his unconventional teaching method, I would have gone down a very different path.

    Of course today, he would have been arrested, taken to court, and god knows what else. I do know, I was not his only ward. Unfortunately, not everyone was as lucky as me. Sgt. McCafferty went on to become Chief of Police in my little home town whose force had now grown to about 30 officers. I will always remember his gentle yet firm manner, his ability to understand teenage boys and know the difference between “boys will be boys and true crime”. He had an uncanny ability to listen and to understand and not jump to conclusions that would put a boy on the wrong path. He was truly a unique individual.

    And a good cop. -rc

  5. I once wrote a small interservice newsletter for morale. Among the different column titles were News of No Use, There is No Truth to the Rumor and Absolutely True Horoscopes.

    All of which I made up off the top of my head. I finally gave it up as the people were driving me crazy trying to substantiate false stories.

    I sold ads (no charge but had to be funny) and used the old standby; For Sale One Block of Salt; inquire of Lot, recently of Sodom and Gomorrah. I had people calling to inquire if I knew what I had found????? (A new cause of ulcer formation?)

    I made up horoscopes like this (don’t know your birthday, Randy, but am assigning you Sept 2 Virgo). Dear Virgo, I sense that your writing skills are going to be paying your bills this month. You really have a talent with this as the House of the Rising Moon is leaving the Jupiter substaion of HeartBreak Hotel.

    Believe me when I tell you that the someone I described would call me up to tell me I was amazing and had the best horoscopes they have ever read. When I pointed out that I knew them and that is why I knew so much they just laughed at me….

    So Randy, I have nothing but kind words for people like you who can keep it up for years on end and who are still funny and still willing to deal with the general public; some of them for free! And not only that you have kept a tender heart and are happy to give a head’s up to the people who have made your life better. Salute to all policemen and -women everywhere. Thanks for reminding me.
    Thank you.

    You could probably make a fortune writing an email newsletter or web site! Yeah, there are dumb customers, but I pretty much chase the dumb ones away, leaving almost exclusively smart readers! -rc

  6. I was just searching the net, when I decided to see if I could find anything about Armand, whom I also lost track of over the years. I was a reserve officer in the department and he also took a turn overseeing the reserves, followed by Dominic Peloso. If you are in contact with Armand tell him I asked about him and said HI.

    I remember Dom, too. But despite having a likely email for Armand, I got no reply when I tried it. Sorry! -rc

  7. So glad that the guy I was married to made a positive impression on so many young people in Menlo Park.

    I remember you well, Linda. Thanks for popping in! -rc

  8. The phrase was also in very common use by my high school math instructor. Those of us who had been his students only needed to utter “this is true” to evoke his memory. 20 years later, in the 1990s, I discovered your stories under that title and immediately pictured “Mr. Pinder” in my mind each time.

    Love it! -rc

  9. It would seem that there’s good reason that Armand did not reply: Find a Grave.

    [Armand died in 2023 at 80.] This page was written in 2010, so he well could have received my message. Hope so. Hadn’t thought of doing such a search, so thanks. -rc

  10. I may have read this in the past, but don’t have a clear recollection; still, nice to read it again! Something that I’ve thought about occasionally though, but not bothered to ask for whatever reason, is your choice of not only the font, but the colour of the title. I’d thought there was something familiar about it, and suddenly remembered one day recently why; a book of “speculative fiction” was published in Britain in 1971 called “The New SF”, compiled and edited by Langdon Jones. The letters SF appear to be the same font/colour as your choice! I probably can’t attach an image here, so you will have to search that title to see it.

    Well, my answer is too long for this space (especially since I grabbed the book cover as an illustration!), so it’s now its own blog post: The Evolution of True’s Logo. -rc


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