SCPD to hold memorial service March 7
Officers of the Santa Cruz Police Department returned to the streets in their black and white cruisers Friday morning, though their grief following the loss of two of their fellow policemen earlier this week has not yet even begun to subside.
A huge display of support from the community throughout the day has helped police to stay strong and feel the love, said SCPD Deputy Chief Steve Clark.
“People are waving; giving us thumbs up; thank yous; the community support is absolutely humbling,” he says. “It has sustained us through this time.”
The memorial for Sgt. Loran 'Butch' Baker and detective Elizabeth Butler, both killed on Tuesday, Feb. 26 by suspect Jeremy Goulet, also deceased, will take place at noon on Thursday, March 7 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. It had originally been planned for Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, but the crowd is expected to exceed that venue's capacity.
“We're anticipating thousands of people from all over the state of California,” Police Chief Kevin Vogel said at a Feb. 28 press conference.
Starting at noon on Thursday, March 7, Kaiser Permanente Arena will broadcast the memorial service taking place over the hill. Local television stations will air coverage of the procession that begins at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday and travels from the beach area of Ocean Street to Highway 17.
On Wednesday afternoon and evening, Feb. 27, approximately 200 people attended a vigil at the Louden Nelson Community Center.
A table was piled with bouquets of flowers, flickering candles and two framed photos of the fallen officers. Community members sat at tables and wrote letters for the SCPD about their sadness as well as their support for the department. The event was organized by the City and the Santa Cruz Neighbors community group.
“The people at the police department need to know the people in this community love them and care for them, and they're our family,” said Analicia Cube, co-founder of Take Back Santa Cruz. “They show that to us everyday, and we've been needing to say it back, loudly, for years now.”
Scott Collins, assistant to the city manager, attended the event, along with other City staff. Many simply exchanged hugs rather than words.
“Frustration, anger, sadness and shock,” Collins said of how they were feeling. “Just like the rest of the community; whenever you lose a family member,” he added, referring to the sense of brotherhood within the police department.
The focus now is on supporting the victims' families and honoring the lives of Baker and Butler. The Police Officers Association and the City are both providing resources to ensure the families are taken care of, Collins said.
At about 7 p.m. SCPD officers arrived, including Chief Vogel, Deputy Chief Steve Clark, and Deputy Chief Rick Martinez, all looking deeply saddened. Many approached the officers and embraced them as tears streamed down their faces.
About a half hour later, Monica Parker, a well-known local gospel singer, arrived and made her way to the front of the room, next to the table full of flowers and candles. The crowd went silent, turning to face Parker as she began to sing the hymn “Amazing Grace” a cappella. After the first round, the audience joined in, singing along softly.
Many in the community had met and developed personal relationships with officers Baker and Butler.
Regan Eymann, who attended the vigil carrying her 2-year-old daughter in one arm, said Baker had consoled her just last week during a frightening incident near her home in the Seabright neighborhood.
Baker had spoken with Eymann and given her his contact information, helping her to feel better, she said. “To have just seen him makes it so hard,” she said. “He was one of those people that you just don't forget.”
She also described the difficulty in explaining what happened to her 7-year-old son. “I told him that three people were killed, and two of them were officers,” she said. “He understands that they're no longer with us, but he doesn't really understand why I'm crying.”
David Curry, a building contractor, was working down the street from the shooting when it occurred, close enough to hear the gunshots.
At the vigil he sat down to write about how he has been feeling since Tuesday. “The whole thing is traumatizing,” he said. “I've been through earthquakes in this town; fires in this town; floods in this town. But this incident is truly horrific.”
The memorial service will be held at noon on Thursday, March 7 at HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara Street, San Jose, hppavilion.com. Local viewing will be available at Kaiser Permanente Arena, 140 Front St., Santa Cruz.
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