If I had a kid and he told me he wanted to be an officer, I would have told him this is someone you should aspire to be like," said LAPD Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell, who knew Simmons for 15 years.
"He was the consummate SWAT officer."
A minister, the 51-year-old Simmons was affectionately called "The Deacon" by fellow officers.
Born in San Bernardino, he worked in the LAPD for 27 years and was shot in the line of duty early in his career.
He was often seen playing basketball in the front yard of his Rancho Palos Verdes home, or jogging through the neighborhood.
"I couldn't believe it when I saw it," neighbor Mary Bobic said. "When I saw his picture, I said, `Oh, my God!' I told my husband. He said, `He's a good man."'
Simmons' father was in the Air Force, and the family lived in Germany and Long Island, N.Y., for a time before relocating to Southern California, said his sister, Valjean Adams of Winona, Minn.
He graduated from Fairfax High School, Adams said, and was a standout athlete who played football at Washington State University, where there was a moment of silence for him Thursday night before the basketball game against UCLA. He had a tryout with the Dallas Cowboys, but didn't quite make it.
While Simmons' weekdays were consumed primarily by police work, his weekends were dedicated to helping youths in seven South Los Angeles housing projects as a minister for the Glory Christian Fellowship church in Carson.
When he wasn't doing that, he was coaching his son's football team.
I didn't make any editorial comment on the death of Randal Simmons. It didn't seem necessary, and I think his life speaks for itself. There are often times when things go horribly wrong in various communities and people try to come up with extraordinary solutions. But THE solution is tried and true and has worked for centuries, and so it is my standard response in all cases: Support your local police.