Several hundred family members, friends and colleagues paid tribute to the 51 Oakland police officers who have died in the line of duty since 1867. In a ceremony at Oakland police headquarters, Police Chief Anthony Batts said, “We’re here today to honor the courage and bravery that officers have shown throughout the history of the Oakland Police Department.” Batts said the sacrifices of the fallen officers should be remembered because “every day officers go into dark alleys to deal with the worst of the worst to make this city safe.”Batts, who was an officer and police chief in Long Beach before he came to Oakland in October 2009, recalled that a suspect once put a shotgun to his head. “Sometimes you’re simply lucky that you go home alive that day,” he said.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said, “We honor with our full hearts the officers who died and their families.” “We may not always agree on everything, but there is no one in Oakland who doesn’t understand the critical role of the police and honor you for your sacrifice,” Quan said. Quan has clashed with the police union over how much money officers should contribute to their retirement benefits. Ninety family members of 15 of the officers who were honored participated today’s memorial. This is the 15th year the memorial has been held. The names of all 51 officers who died in the line of duty were read, beginning with Richard B. Richardson, who was killed at age 35 in 1867 while attempting to serve an arrest warrant on an elderly man. Among those who participated today were family members of George White, who died at age 32 in 1907 when he interrupted a robbery in progress while walking his beat in Oakland’s Chinatown district.
The ceremony was marred by a man wearing blue jeans and a black shirt who repeatedly shouted “F— the police” as officers stood at attention outside the building while waiting for the family members of slain officers to enter. Quan walked over to talk to the man for a few minutes, but he continued shouting after she left. Capt. Edward Tracey also went over to speak with the man. Tracey was the commander of the SWAT unit that was involved in a confrontation with a wanted parolee who killed four officers on March 21, 2009, before being shot dead.
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