Officer concludes distinguished career while being investigated by the FBI

After more than 36 years of dedicated service to San Francisco, police officer Paul Makaveckas has retired, according to police spokeswoman Sergeant Lyn Tomioka. Although it is uncommon for SF Weekly to eulogize a retiring officer of the law, we would like to extend special recognition to Makaveckas and his impressive career.

It all began on the streets with gangbanging, Makaveckas told United Press International in 1982. At 14, he was already running the West Coast chapter of a gang called the Egyptian Kings. He was surrounded by bad apples: He told UPI that his two half-brothers were heroin addicts, his half-sisters were prostitutes, and his father fled the United States to beat a forgery charge. But there was something different about Makaveckas. Something that seemed to suggest he was destined for something bigger. Law enforcement!

After Makaveckas got into a knife fight and earned a police record, he was accepted into the San Francisco Police Academy in 1972. He quickly began driving his Corvette around the Tenderloin, busting his old friends. "They ask, 'Why me?'" he told UPI. "I just tell them, 'Look, man, I don't have any buddies who use dope.'"

That's not to say Makaveckas didn't have a sensitive side. In 1991, fellow narcotics officer Alfred De La Cerda filed a $5 million lawsuit against the San Francisco Police Department, claiming that other officers tipped off drug dealers about raids, accepted payoffs for protection, and, in some cases, dealt drugs themselves.

The suit stated that Makaveckas had a close relationship with Dennis Chan Lai, a "major convicted cocaine dealer," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. At Lai's drug trial, Makaveckas even appeared as a character witness, court records show.

For his final contribution to the city of San Francisco, Makaveckas — who ended his career on the taxicab detail — apparently helped a bunch of cab drivers get their licenses without the usual hassle. Instead of teaching the required course and grading the tests, Makaveckas allegedly just took the future cabbies' money and told them to Christmas-tree that sucker. This act of generosity was recorded by an FBI informant wearing a wire, an unnamed source told the Chron; FBI spokesman Joe Schadler says the investigation is ongoing.

Although Makaveckas has developed a reputation over the years for talking freely and often about himself, he did not respond to SF Weekly's numerous interview requests. It seems that for this fine officer, humility has come with age.

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