SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Law enforcement officers who lost their lives while on duty were remembered today in Santa Maria, part of the annual Peace Officers' Memorial. Families of fallen officers expressed their gratitude over the ceremony.
It's been 8 years since Diana May's late husband, Richard, died. Richard May served as a Lompoc Police officer for 14 years before taking a job with the East Palo Alto Police Department in 2004. Less than 2 years later, he was shot and killed by a 23-year old parolee during a foot chase.
"I remember when I was told, when the Sheriff's Department came out, that I just kept saying ‘not my husband'," said May. "You just don't think it's going to happen."
The bagpipes welcomed in the procession of law enforcement vehicles in Santa Maria for the annual memorial remembering the ones that lost their lives on duty. Eight California officers died while serving in 2013, and the pictures of those officers were on display.
"Each of us has families nd we know there is a possibility we may not see our family again," said Sgt. Chris Nartatez of the Santa Maria Police Department. "To pay tribute to the officers that have made the ultimate sacrifice, it's something that we need to do and honor them."
The customary, 21-gun salute rang out, followed by the familiar tune of Taps.
"A lot of people don't realize that the United States loses approximately between 160 and 180 officers every year," said Diana May. "I appreciate that they are not forgotten."
After the memorial, there was a BBQ fundraiser to benefit the Santa Maria Police Officers Association Benevolent Fund. The fund is used to help officers and their families during illness, injury, and death.