Thursday, October 18 , 2018, 4:18 pm | Fair 76º

 
 
 
 

Ceremony Notes Risks, Sacrifices of Law Enforcement Officers

Personnel from multiple agencies participate in annual service organized by Santa Maria Police Department to remember colleagues killed in the line of duty

A multi-agency honor team presents the colors during the annual Law Enforcement Memorial at the Santa Maria Police Department on Wednesday. Click to view larger
A multi-agency honor team presents the colors during the annual Law Enforcement Memorial at the Santa Maria Police Department on Wednesday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

As law enforcement members gathered in Santa Maria to remember the 10 officers killed in the line of duty across California in 2016, a retired lieutenant said he often has been asked why he chose the dangerous career.

The answer is simple, said Chris Vaughn, who retired in 2011 after 30 years in law enforcement, 22 of which were with the Santa Maria Police Department.

“There are actually many answers to that question and many reasons why people choose law enforcement,” Vaughn said. “But at the end of the day, the primary reason is service, a willingness and a desire to serve.”

The nine men and one woman killed in 2016 had served their communities for various lengths of time before making the ultimate sacrifice.

“None of them wanted the spotlight,” said Lt. Dan Cohen, who served as master of ceremony. “They simply put their welfare above others at the risk of their own personal safety.”

The annual Peace Officers’ Memorial held outside at the Santa Maria Police Station on West Betteravia Road recognized the role of law enforcement officers.

“When violent criminals threaten our communities, peace officers are the first ones to shield others from harm,” Cohen added. “They provide protection for people they’ve never met. With their service comes great risk and sacrifice.”

As Explorers placed a single white lily near photos of fallen officers from across California, Chief Ralph Martin solemnly read their names, including two former colleagues from his days as a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. 

The 50-minute ceremony began with procession of law enforcement vehicles plus a flyover by the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit helicopter. 

Participants came from multiple agencies including the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, the Lompoc and Guadalupe police departments and the California Highway Patrol.

Mayor Alice Patino read a proclamation for Peace Officers” Memorial Day and National Police Week recognizing the California officers killed in the line of duty last year along with “the heroic men and women who have dedicated their lives to preserving public safety.”

Members of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Unit particpate in the Law Enforcement Memorial hosted annually by the Santa Maria Police Department. Click to view larger
Members of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Unit particpate in the Law Enforcement Memorial hosted annually by the Santa Maria Police Department. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“You know, whenever I go to a badge-pinning, I always want to let the men and women and their families know we have their back,” Patino said before reading the proclamation “Here in Santa Maria, we believe law enforcement’s extremely important.

“I still think of it as a small town. We had a terrorist group come in here and terrorize our community. Our law enforcement did such a fantastic job,” Patino said. “March 3rd, three o’clock in the morning, 2016, will always be etched in my memory.”

That was the date the Santa Maria police-led Operation Matador led to more than a dozen arrests of people connected to MS-13, a violent international criminal gang allegedly linked to multiple homicides locally.

“I knew it was going to happen and I prayed, 'Lord, keep our officers safe,'” Patino added.

After those arrests, the mayor said, residents said they again felt safe to take their children to the park or take walks.

“It’s because of law enforcement here in Santa Maria, so thank you to all of you,” Patino said as audience members applauded.

Near the end of Wednesday’s ceremony, a special presentation was made to the family of the late Bob Crandall, a retired lieutenant who died in 2016 age the age of 67.

Sgt. Steve Lopez presented a  plaque with expended shell casings from the 21-gun salute provided during Crandall's funeral service.

“This is an appropriate time to recognize his service to this community,” Cohen added.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Terry Cook from the California Department of Corrections sings the National Anthem while Chief Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola and Guadalupe Chief Gary Hoving pay their respects. Click to view larger
Terry Cook from the California Department of Corrections sings the National Anthem while Chief Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola and Guadalupe Chief Gary Hoving pay their respects. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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