Oakland police honor officers who have died in the line of duty
on May 6, 2011
On Thursday hundreds of Oakland police officers and ninety family members honored the 51 Oakland police officers who have died in the line of duty since 1867. In an hour-long ceremony at Oakland police headquarters, speakers including Chief Anthony Batts and Mayor Jean Quan paid tribute to the fallen officers whose names are displayed a Memorial Wall inside the police building.
Before the event, a procession of family members mostly clad in dark colors was escorted by the Oakland Police Department’s Honor Guards to the police building. Along the road, police officers in uniform, all wearing mourning bands across their police badges, saluted the mourners. Inside, family members and police officers gathered around the Memorial Wall and a flower arrangement and listened devoutly to the memorial service.
In his memorial address, Chief Batts said that during his career he had a shotgun pointed at his head, was struck multiple times by gunfire and has had to chase cars going 90 miles per hour. He said that when looking back on these experiences, he realizes that one is sometimes “simply lucky to go home [alive] that day.” Batts emphasized that police officers of the city of Oakland “risk their lives every day by going out into the dark alleys and dealing with the worst of the worst to make Oakland safe.” He thanked the police officers for their service and the family members for their sacrifices.
Mayor Quan said that the “entire city honors the 51 names” on the Memorial Wall and the sacrifices made by the families of the officers. Quan, who attended the meeting for the first time as mayor, told Oakland North that she knows the parents of Officer John R. Hege, who was killed in 2009, and that she had personally met Hege and another officer who died the same year. Quang said that Thursday’s memorial service was a “special day” for her and that her hope for the future is “that we improve our procedures to keep our own officers safe and that we bring violence down nationally.”
After the memorial addresses, police officers and family members placed a rose for each fallen officer onto a flower arrangement. Children from St. Leo’s School Choir sang “Keep Holding on” and Oakland Fire and Police Department Chaplain Father Jayson Landeza held a prayer. After the ceremony, some officers and family members gathered at the Memorial Wall to exchange their thoughts and experiences.
Nancy Guider, who lost her husband David on October 2, 1973, said that the ceremony “was beautifully done” and that she has been attending the annual memorial service now for 7 years. She said that attending helps her to share her feeling with everyone at the event and that she appreciates the camaraderie between the attendees. Being at the event and talking to people who suffered comparable losses is “just a different feeling” for Guider than telling her friends at home “how it was,” she said. She hopes to be able to help younger people to get through the challenges that they are facing after having lost a loved one.
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