Above the Call

Off‑duty Correctional Officer helps capture escapee

A correctional officer with B Diaz on his uniform.
Correctional Officer Benny Diaz.

Off-duty Correctional Officer Benny Diaz was at home when he was alerted to a stranger in his yard. At 6:20 a.m., he headed outside, spotting a man trying to break into his vehicle. The stranger was also wearing a backpack belonging to Diaz.

Realizing he’d been seen, the suspect fled. Officer Diaz gave chase, eventually tackling the man. After a physical altercation, Diaz was able to retrieve his backpack and his car keys.

Regaining his footing, the suspect scaled a brick wall, climbing into a neighbor’s backyard. Officer Diaz quickly alerted his neighbor and told them to call 911.

Multiple law enforcement agencies responded, catching the man in the parking lot of a nearby business.

When he returned home, Diaz discovered the man had entered his residence, where he swiped the keys and backpack.

The suspect was an escapee from the Kern County Sheriff Department’s Lerdo Pre-Trial Facility, where he was being held on charges related to a child’s murder.

Supervisors at Wasco State Prison-Reception Center praised Diaz’s quick thinking that morning on April 28.

“Correctional Officer Benny Diaz’s actions directly resulted in the capture of a dangerous escapee from the custody of the Kern County Sheriff’s Department,” his supervisor wrote. “Diaz acted without regard for his own personal safety, and immediately placed himself in harm’s way to protect the community from a dangerous individual. WSP-RC would like to thank Diaz for his dedication and exemplary display of public service.”

Story by Capt. M. Martin.

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