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Three Names Added to Fresno Peace Officers Memorial in Emotional Ceremony

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For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, families and law enforcement gather for the Fresno County Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony. (GV Wire/Liz Juarez)
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As far as the eye could see, men and women in khaki, green and dark blue law enforcement uniforms stood at a standstill in the middle of Fresno’s downtown Courthouse Park on Thursday to honor officers who in the last two years died in the line of duty.

“Today is a very special day because we get the opportunity to collectively show our appreciation and give honor to the family and to those who gave it all and served this community with integrity until their end of watch.” — Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, families of the deceased and law enforcement officers came together for the Fresno County Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony.

Fresno County Sheriff’s Office detective Jose Mora and Fresno police officer Angel De La Fuente and Sgt. Paul Brown were recognized. All three died from COVID-19 complications.

Fresno’s Police Chief Paco Balderrama addressed the families acknowledging that the officers they were honoring risked their lives to protect the community.

“The profession of law enforcement is significantly different from any other in our society police officers, deputy sheriffs, correctional officers, and highway patrolman or state troopers, as we call them in Oklahoma, are all public servants who put their lives on the line daily,” said Balderrama.

“Today is a very special day because we get the opportunity to collectively show our appreciation and give honor to the family and to those who gave it all and served this community with integrity until their end of watch.”

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama, left, speaks at the Fresno Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony on Thursday, May 5, 2022. (GV Wire/Liz Juarez)

Families Say Their Goodbyes

Toward the end of the ceremony, families and close friends of the fallen officers walked together hand in hand, laying roses near the granite memorial etched with the names of other Fresno County men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty. The names on the memorial date to 1889.

Law enforcement members in attendance also shared information about the fallen officers. In contrast to the somberness of the occasion, their fond memories often produced smiles and laughter.

A family says goodbye to a beloved officer at Thursday’s ceremony. (GV Wire/Liz Juarez)

Families and officers walk together at the Fresno County Peace Officers Ceremony. (GV Wire/Liz Juarez)

Local, State and Federal Law Enforcement Officers Join Together

In addition to the emotions displayed by the families,  officers bowed their heads and some had watery eyes as everyone listened attentively while Balderrama spoke.

Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies attend the Fresno County Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony on Thursday, May 5, 2022. (GV Wire/Liz Juarez)

“According to the FBI, the number of police officers being feloniously murdered in 2021 went up compared to the previous two years,” said Balderrama. “National negative sentiments after isolated, tragic incidents involving police and the “abolish the police” and “defund the police” movements contributed to these increases almost overnight.”

He then called for the support of the community and elected officials and leaders at all levels. But, said Balderrama, “More than this, more than anything, we need the prayers and support and the love of our families.”

Music Accompanies the Ceremony

Biola Strings members pay tribute to officers who passed away in the line of duty. (GV Wire/Liz Juarez)

Inspire One Choir performs in the ceremony at Courthouse Park. (GV Wire/Liz Juarez)

Liz Juarez joined GV Wire in July, 2021 as a Digital News Producer. She has experience working for publications around the Central Valley including the Clovis Roundup, Porterville Recorder and Hanford Sentinel. While in college, she interned for Mountain West Athletics and served as Outreach Chair for the Fresno State Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). Liz earned a bachelor's degree in Media Communications and Journalism at Fresno State and a master's degree in Communications from Arizona State University. In her down time, she enjoys reading, drawing and staying active by playing basketball, taking trips to the coast and visiting national parks. You can contact Liz at liz.juarez@gvwire.com

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