Riverside Police Association Honors Recovering Officer with New Scholarship

Officer Andrew Tachias credits part of his recovery to mental toughness he developed as a runner at UCR

UCR shot put athlete Nate Nahigian snaps a photo of fellow athlete Cody Jordan, left, Andrew Tachias, track Coach Nate Browne and former UCR track star Riverside Police Lt. Frank Assumma. Jeanette Marantos

It took some serious focus for Andrew Tachias to stay alive the night he and his partner, Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain, were ambushed by rogue Los Angeles Police Officer Christopher Dorner in 2013. But Tachias credits the mental toughness and discipline he learned as a student-athlete at UCR with helping him to survive the shooting, and push through his painful recovery to return to work last October.

That was one of the motivating factors behind the Riverside Police Officers’ Association’s decision to endow an athletic scholarship in Tachias’ name. Tachias competed on the Track & Field/Cross Country team when he attended UCR from 2006-2009, and dreamed of entering law enforcement.

The Andrew Tachias Riverside Police Officers’ Association Endowed Fund will honor his passions, by providing a scholarship to a Track & Field/Cross Country athlete with a serious interest in law enforcement, association president Det. Brian Smith said Feb. 3.

 Krysta Plato, Director of Development for UCR Athletics, said the minimum amount to create an endowed fund is $25,000. “With the RPOA’s generous gift,  this fund has already surpassed that amount,” she said. “The university welcomes more donations to the fund.”  

Smith said the association definitely plans to keep contributing to the fund in the future to help as many athletes as possible. “We’re hoping the community will help us grow the fund too,” Smith said, “especially alumni. This is good for UCR and good for the community.” 

Tachias, 30, had been working with the association to develop the endowment at UCR, in part because so many Riverside Police officers are former UCR athletes, particularly in Track & Field/Cross Country.

The West Covina native didn’t know until recently, however, that the association planned to make the endowment in his name.

“It’s great, because I love this school,” Tachias said on Feb. 3, during a break in filming with a television news crew. “I loved the variety of classes UCR offered and the diversity of the population. I just felt very comfortable here.”

Riverside Police Officer Andrew Tachias, center, jokes with UCR Track Coach Nate Browne, left and athletes Carl Nahigian and Cody Jordan while being filmed by a television crew about the new athletic scholarship in his name.

Riverside Police Officer Andrew Tachias, center, jokes with UCR Track Coach Nate Browne, left and athletes Carl Nahigian and Cody Jordan while being filmed by a television crew about the new athletic scholarship in his name.

Tachias was recruited to UCR by then track coach Irv Ray in 2006, and worked closely with UCR’s present Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Nate Browne, who was a volunteer coach at the time.

“Andrew was always pushing the limits as an athlete and challenged everyone around him to get better,” Browne said.

The Tachias Endowed Fund is particularly important to UCR athletics because it was inspired by an alumnus who attended on scholarship and used his athletic training to work through challenges and achieve his goals, said Athletic Director Tamica Smith-Jones.

“This is a testament to where access to higher education and talent in a sport can take you,” Smith-Jones said. “It’s taken him through tragedy and turned it into triumph, not just for an alumnus, but for the entire university, and we are grateful to him for allowing us to share in his story.”

Posing for photos on the UCR track, Tachias looked relaxed and fit talking to athletes and officers many of whom were UCR running alumni themselves, such as Lt. Frank Assumma, who helped set seven running records at UCR between 1980 and 1983, including five individual records that still stand. 

Tachias ruefully remembered having a lot of injuries during his athletic career at UCR, but he said he also developed the skills he would need as a police officer, through classes and working for the campus police department while he was a student. He went to Inglewood Police Department first, and attended the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Academy before joining the Riverside Police Department in 2012, just two months before the Feb. 7, 2013, shooting that changed his life.

Crain, his partner and training officer, was killed in the attack and Tachias was shot nine times in the arms, legs and back. He nearly died that night, but Tachias’ training kicked in when he needed it most. He made his first public appearance less than two months later, and started running again as part of his recovery. He still can’t patrol or use a gun and he says his body hurts every day. But he’s working again, and intent on getting better, no matter how challenging his recovery may be.

“There’s discipline and strict schedules you have to follow to be a college athlete, and when you train like that every day, it kind of becomes a habit,” he said. “You get used to pushing your body to the limit, and several times when I wanted to quit, I learned to just push through it. I don’t take things day by day; I have to take a longer view: ‘I’ll get over this hump and then tackle the next one.”




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