Local law enforcement and the community gathered to pay respects last week to those officers and deputies who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Wednesday’s ceremony at Lakewood Memorial Park paid tribute to the 18 law enforcement officers who have died while protecting and serving Stanislaus County since 1935.
The tribute included an address from Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse, a release of doves, and recognition of unfortunately two more lives lost last year in Stanislaus County. The families of Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Antonio “Tony” Hinostroza and Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh joined the families of other officers killed on the job, including Kathy Stevenson, widow of slain Ceres Police Sgt. Howard “Howie” Stevenson.
Singh’s K9 partner Sam was with Officer Ashley Williams to honor his fallen handler.
Singh, 33, was shot and killed during a Dec. 26 traffic stop he made at Merced Street and Eucalyptus Avenue in Newman. Cpl. Singh had been employed by Newman Police Department since July 2011.
Deputy Hinostroza died in November responding to assist Riverbank deputies on a vehicle pursuit when he collided with a power pole at the intersection of Terminal Avenue and Claribel Road.
The local granite memorial is etched with the names of other fallen officers within the county. They include Stanislaus County Sheriff Deputy Dennis Wallace who was murdered during a Nov. 13, 2016 traffic stop at Fox Grove, miles upstream from his final resting spot.The first recorded officer in Stanislaus County to die on the job was Lavon B. New who crashed his Turlock Police motorcycle and died four months later on Aug. 14, 1935.
Earle Myron Ames, a California Highway Patrolman, died Dec. 11, 1936 when his police motorcycle struck a city bus at the eastern approach to the Oakland Bay Bridge during heavy fog. He was on a special duty assignment in Oakland at the time. Officer Ames had served with the California Highway Patrol for two years and had previously served as the Newman police chief for four years.
Turlock Police officers Joe Kerley and Glenn Winans were scheduled to go off duty at midnight on Nov. 1, 1949 but responded to a prowler call before clocking out. They joined with Officer George Bredenberg, who just came onto his shift. The three jumped into a patrol car and traveled into thick fog which shrouded a railroad crossing where they entered the path of a passing train. Kerley and Winans were killed instantly while Bredenberg died two days later.
For 16 years there were no officer deaths in the county. However, between 1965 and 1973, six officers died, including Sheriff's Deputy Billy Joe Dickens who was killed responding to a Jan. 27, 1970 Hughson Avenue bank robbery. Dickens was shot in the back after taking on two robbery suspects at the same time.
Sheriff's Deputy Harold Thornton died as he responded to a south Modesto domestic violence call on Aug. 23, 1967 and was ambushed by the suspect.
Officer Raymond Willert, 26, a five-year Turlock police veteran, died on Feb. 9, 1973 as he responded to a Turlock bank robbery.
For the next 32 years, officer safety was taken for granted in Stanislaus County. But on Jan. 9, 2005, Ceres Police sustained its first officer death when Sgt. Howard Stevenson was ambushed and slain outside of George's Liquors.
A year later, on Feb. 17, 2006, the region was rocked by the death of CHP officer Earl H. Scott, 36, of Hughson. He was gunned down by Columbus Allen Jr. during a Highway 99 traffic stop just south of Hammett Road near Salida.
Modesto Police officer Steve May died on July 23, 2009 as the victim of a seven-year coma from injuries sustained when a felon crashed into his car during a July 29, 2002 crash at South Santa Cruz and Mono Drive. May started his police career working with Ceres Police before transferring to Modesto Police in 1979.
Stanislaus County Sheriff's Deputy Robert "Bob" Lee Paris, Jr., was killed April 12, 2012 while he and another deputy were serving an eviction notice at the Whispering Woods apartment complex on Chrysler Drive in Modesto.
Sheriff's Deputy Jason Garner died in a solo car crash on May 13, 2017 on Crows Landing Road near South Seventh Street in south Modesto.
President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation in 1962 setting aside the first Wednesday in May as Peace Officers Memorial Day.