Ceremonial flame in front of the Memorial wall

Sheriff Hosts 51st Annual Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony

Sheriff Hosts 51st Annual Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony 600 750 SIB Staff

Sheriff Villanueva Hosts 51st Annual Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony in Virtual, Streamed Event

Despite the circumstances of physical distancing due to COVID-19, the 51st annual Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony was observed, to pay tribute to law enforcement partners lost in the line of duty and formally enroll six new names to the memorial wall, located at the Sheriff’s Training Academy and Regional Services (STARS) Center in Whittier.

The Los Angeles County Peace Officers’ Memorial Wall was first dedicated on Friday, May 15, 1970 at Biscailuz Center Training Academy by Sheriff Peter J. Pitchess.  When the wall was first erected, there were 253 names on it; today, it displays 533.  It serves as a constant reminder that we owe these men and women for their noble sacrifice, a debt which can never be fully paid.  The wall is not just a place where we recognize the fallen, but where we also recognize and remember those they left behind.  It is as much in honor of our heroes, as it is for their loved ones who gave the full measure of their devotion and remind us of the sacrifice of the ones who meant so much to them.

Most recently and regrettably lost:

Officer Juan Jose Diaz

Los Angeles Police Department

E.O.W. July 27, 2019

Historical research determined five of the honorees died in the line of duty

between 1886 and 1996:

Deputy Coroner II Michael Anton Shepherd

Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office

E.O.W. April 2, 1996

Deputy Ames Randolph Jones

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

E.O.W. March 31, 1948

Deputy William Bouett

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

E.O.W. February 18, 1913

Deputy Constable Francis Marion Culp

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

E.O.W. June 10, 1906

Town Marshal Rudolph Bohn

Anaheim Marshal’s Office

E.O.W. September 1886

Although the ceremony was not attended by spectators, it was livestreamed on social media platforms so family members, current and law enforcement partners of the past, friends, and the public for whom these lost souls fought, could watch.  The ceremony opened with a traditional military-style drummer and bagpipe hymn, and attention to Colors with a solo accompaniment of our national anthem.

A moving invocation given by Chaplain Phil Reeves held four requests from our Lord, to stir our hearts and make us not only better peace officers, but more compassionate humans:

  • Bless us with discomfort when we see others suffer, so He may live deep within our hearts;
  • Bless us with anger at injustice, suppression and exploitation of people, so we may do His work for justice, freedom and peace;
  • Bless us with tears for those we lost, love and dearly miss, so He may heal the families they left behind and turn our pain into joy;
  • Bless us with enough foolishness, to believe that we can make a difference in the world.

Standing at a lectern next to the memorial flame, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore extended his appreciation for the ceremony on behalf of his agency and gave his assurance of support, “We stand with you each day, each watch, but also today, as we mourn those who have fallen.”  He recounted the circumstances surrounding the killing of Officer Juan Jose Diaz and lamented the debt of peace for his loss could never be repaid to his family or colleagues. 

Chief of Coroner Investigations, Brian Elias, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, recounted the loss of Deputy Coroner II Michael Anton Shepherd, who was remembered for his dedication, compassion and respect he showed to the families he served.  “As peace officers, we are unified in our dedication to perform our sworn duties, committed to a life of public service,” said Chief Elias. 

Sheriff Alex Villanueva thanked Chief Moore and Chief Elias for their attendance and kind words.  He conveyed his honor and privilege to learn the stories of the brave men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty, as the nation observes National Police Week.  He recounted why so many of us chose the law enforcement profession, “…when the outcome seems darkest, our ability to save lives, to change lives, to answer the call of those who need our help.  These are the reasons why we recommit ourselves to the oath we have sworn to uphold.”

The broadcast event concluded with a Missing Man helicopter flyover, bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and images of the 2020 honorees and funerals for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. 

The ceremony was held during a unique, international epoch.  COVID-19 changed the traditional observance of the annual memorial service, but it did not stop us from recounting the memories and honoring the sacrifices of our brave men and women, and their families who lost so much.

Watch Full Event