Friday, October 19 , 2018, 1:51 pm | Fair 84º


Santa Maria Valley Honors Fallen Peace Officers With Memorial Ceremony

“Let us never forget their sacrifice,” keynote speaker Cmdr. Marc Schneider tells crowd Wednesday


Becoming a law enforcement officer is more than a job, Santa Maria police Cmdr. Marc Schneider said Wednesday morning.

“I believe that law enforcement is not a choice, but rather a calling,” Schneider said during the Santa Maria Police Department Peace Officers' Memorial ceremony. 

Approximately 200 people attended the ceremony held in the parking lot the Santa Maria Police Station.

Law enforcement members from around northern Santa Barbara County participated in the ceremony, which included a flyover by the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit helicopter.

A procession of police vehicles traveled from the old police station on East Cook Street to the West Betteravia Road site to kick off the ceremony.

Schneider noted a Harvard Business School psychologist who said three words — vocation, career and job —were typically used interchangeably despite their distinct differences.

“Vocation is the most profound of the three and it has it do with your calling,” Schneider said. “It’s what you’re doing in life that makes a difference for you, that builds meaning for you. That you can look back on in your later years to see the impact you’ve made on the world.

“A calling is something you have to listen for. You don’t hear it once and immediately recognize it. You’ve got to attune yourself to the message. I believe that law enforcement officers are drawn to their calling out of a willingness to protect and serve their community,” Schneider said. 

Law enforcement officers are exposed to heartache, loss and violence, and must be efficient yet compassionate, Schneider said.

They are expected to be courageous in the face of danger, harsh and even violent in their own defense and in the defense of others, while aware their actions will be subject to scrutiny that can be relentless, Schneider added. 

Santa Maria Police Department Peace Officers’ Memorial Click to view larger
Champion bagpiper Paul Dunn performs during the Santa Maria Peace Officers Memorial at the Santa Maria Police Station on Wednesday morning as the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Unit, led by Lt. Erik Raney, prepares to demonstrate the riderless horse tradition. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“As a community you expect and deserve the highest ethical standards of your law enforcement officers,” said Schneider, a 25-year veteran of the force. “In return, these men and women deserve your support and your understanding as they carry out their duties in a society that can be very unpredictable.”

Several speakers remembered the six law enforcement officers killed last year in California, with members of Santa Maria Police Explorers placing a white lily by a photo of the fallen officers as Chief Phil Hansen read each name.

“Let us never forget their sacrifice,” Schneider said. “These officers died protecting and serving their communities. Let us protect and serve their memory by being men and women of honorable character and integrity as we continue the mission these officers gave their lives carrying out.”

In addition to the Santa Maria police and Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies, representatives of Lompoc Police, Guadalupe Police, the California Highway Patrol, the county District Attorney's Office and the county Probation Department participated in the annual event.

The ceremony also noted the local law enforcement members lost through the years, as Lt. Russ Mengel read their names.

They include CHP officers Rick Stovall, Britt Irvine and Loren Scruggs, Guadalupe police officer Samuel “Sammy” Sanchez and Santa Maria Officer Robert Ramos.

Law enforcement officers can be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the rights and privileges of others, Mengel said. 

“Service and sacrifice is what his profession is about, to protect our communities from those that would prey on others,” Mengel said. 

During the ceremony Mayor Alice Patino presented a proclamation for National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day on Wednesday. 

“We are a city that definitely values our law enforcement, our men and women who serve Santa Maria,” she said. “We just think you guys and women are so important.”

Wednesday’s ceremony occurred a day after the Santa Barbara Police Department hosted its own event.

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.

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