News

Local law enforcement holds ceremony for officers killed in 2020

18 California officers died in the line of duty.
Hollister Interim Police Chief Carlos Reynoso's black ribbon badge honors not only officer who died in 2020, but two who were killed recently. Photo by John Chadwell.
Sgt. Bo Leland of HPD coordinated the event to honor those who died in the line of duty in 2020. Photo by John Chadwell.
Sgt. Bo Leland of HPD coordinated the event to honor those who died in the line of duty in 2020. Photo by John Chadwell.
HPD Interim Police Chief Carlos Reynoso with Councilman Rick Perez, the only council member to attend the ceremony to honor officer who died in the line of duty in 2020. Photo by John Chadwell.
HPD Sgt. Bo Leland came from the Stockton Police Department and said he was saddened by the death of Officer Jimmy Inn of the SPD who was murdered. Photo by John Chadwell.
HPD Sgt. Bo Leland came from the Stockton Police Department and said he was saddened by the death of Officer Jimmy Inn of the SPD who was murdered. Photo by John Chadwell.

May 11-17 is National Police Week. This year, in Hollister, law enforcement officers from the Hollister Police Department, the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, the California Forestry Service, Hollister Fire Department, as well as several EMTs from Medical Transport Service, came together on May 14 for an End of Watch Ceremony to honor 18 California officers who died in the line of duty in 2020.

According to Marcia Ferranto, CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, “2020 is going to go down as one of the deadliest years for law enforcement.”

Across the nation 394 officers died in the line of duty. While 58 were killed by gunfire or other assaults, 234 died from COVID-19, according to the Officer Down Memorial page.

Hollister Police Sgt. Bo Leland coordinated ceremonies that took place simultaneously at three locations: Prospect Avenue near Rancho San Justo Middle School, Hollister Fire Department Station #2 located at 2240 Valley View Road, and the Hollister Police Department located at 395 Apollo Way.

“Ceremonies are held around the nation, typically the first or second week of May, to show respect to those officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Leland said, “as well as the sacrifices on the part of law enforcement, in general, and their families.”

He said 2021 is the second year the event has taken place in the county.

“We gather local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and at noon we show support for the officers who died in California,” he said. “We restrict radio traffic on our primary radio frequency and our regional dispatch center calls out the names, agencies and end-of-watch date for each officer.”

Leland said the ceremony is particularly poignant now because two California officers were killed this week.

“We had Detective Luca Benedetti from San Luis Obispo Police Department, who was killed serving a search warrant, and Officer Jimmy Inn was shot and killed in Stockton the following day responding to a domestic incident. For all the officers involved, this week for two officers to die in the line of duty is particularly significant.”

He told the group that he had come from the Stockton Police Department prior to joining HPD and even though he did not personally know Inn, his death struck home.

HPD interim chief Carlos Reynoso said even with the COVID restrictions the ceremony had to take place.

“We couldn’t let this day go by without doing something to acknowledge those people who gave the last measure in service for their communities,” he said. “Unfortunately, every year more names are added to the list and it’s the least we can do to take a moment of our time and recognize their sacrifices. Our hearts and prayers are with their families and agencies. Everybody is suffering in California and the nation today.”

Rick Perez was the only Hollister City Council member to attend the ceremony. A strong supporter of law enforcement, he said, “Every time I hear about another officer losing their life it breaks my heart. It’s important to show respect to them and their families, and I just wanted to show my support.”

Those participating at the three locations lined up by their vehicles as the voice of the dispatcher could be heard coming from their radios announcing each officer’s name and the date of their end of watch. Afterward, they sounded their sirens in tribute and then drove away to return to duty throughout the city.

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John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]