By Megan Chilles
California Health Care Facility
Nine officers from CDCR spent a recent Sunday morning completing the Peace Officer Memorial Run in full uniform.
Staff who completed the 13-mile half marathon in gear included California Health Care Facility employees Correctional Counselor II (A) Rafael Pulido, Correctional Counselor Sonia Dhanota-Singh, ISU Sgt. Victor Reyes-Nava, ISU Officer Jeremy Castillo, Officer Luis Moscorro, Deuel Vocational Institution Officer Juan Franco and CSP-Solano Sgt. Alicia Warman.
Sgt. Lance Davis and Officer Maria Bracamontes, both with CHCF, completed the 5K in full uniform.
By suffering for a short time, these men and women honored the memories of fallen officers from Stanislaus County who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty protecting its citizens.
“While our pain only lasts a few hours, the pain felt by the families of the fallen lasts forever,” said Dhanota-Singh, who helped organize the CDCR team for the race.
Participating CDCR officers carried a stab-proof vest, baton, handcuffs, MK4 OC pepper spray, flashlight, whistle and chits. In addition to these items, ISU officers carried a ballistic vest, Glock 22 and magazines, metal detector and multi-toll. Many participants wore tactical boots but black running shoes were permitted.
The bruises that these officers acquired with each sweaty step signified the pain of the officers who no longer have the luxury of feeling anything, and their survivors whose grief is never-ending.
“The amount of support and encouragement from family, friends, colleagues and spectators made every challenging step worth it,” said Pulido, who also helped organize the CDCR team.
Posters listing 19 local fallen officers featured their photos, agency details, and end-of-watch dates. They were posted at the start and finish lines as well as at every mile marker of the half marathon. Officers who participated in full gear also wore a special bib honoring one of the fallen heroes.
A fire department ladder truck flew a 50 foot American flag at the finish line, helping motivate runners to finish strong.
“It was a humbling experience to participate in such an important event alongside members of numerous other agencies,” said Pulido. “Next year, our goal is to double the amount of CDCR participants.”
Growing numbers of members of law enforcement are participating in races in full uniform all over the country. In addition to honoring the memories of officers who were killed in the line of duty, officers who run in uniform can help build community support by projecting a healthy and positive image of law enforcement to the public. Rebuilding trust and improving relations between the community and law enforcement is the ultimate way to honor the fallen and prevent future officer deaths in the line of duty, said organizers.