Calif. chiefs honor fallen officers killed in '13

More than 300 police leaders gathered for the California Police Chiefs Association 37th Annual Training Symposium


By Stephen Baxter
Santa Cruz Sentinel

MONTEREY — Police chiefs from across California on Monday honored two fallen Santa Cruz police detectives and eight more officers who were killed in the line of duty in 2013.

More than 300 police leaders gathered at the Portola Plaza Conference Center in Monterey for the California Police Chiefs Association 37th Annual Training Symposium, a weeklong conference to share best practices and experiences.

Monday morning, color guards from Santa Cruz and Salinas police displayed flags and played "Taps." Uniformed officers gave plaques and single roses to family members of the 10 officers who were killed on duty in the state last year.

Santa Cruz police detective Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and detective Elizabeth Butler were honored, as well as police from Laguna Beach, Riverside, Tulare County Sheriff's Office and other agencies. Videos showed pictures of the fallen officers from various parts of their lives and described their interests and accolades in a darkened auditorium in the hotel.

Family of the officers sat in the front row.

"It was a wonderful tribute," said Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel, who attended the ceremony.

"It was one of the most moving ceremonies I've been to aside from our own."

Baker's widow, Kelly Baker, accepted the plaque with her children, Adam and Jillian, by her side. Butch's daughter Ashley was not present.

Louise Butler, Elizabeth Butler's mother, accepted her rose and plaque on behalf of her family. Louise, of Lomita, has moved to Santa Cruz to help take care of Elizabeth's two young children with Elizabeth's partner, Peter Wu.

Baker and Butler were killed on Feb. 26, 2013, while they investigated a sexual assault suspect on North Branciforte Avenue in Santa Cruz. The suspect shot them both to death on his doorstep and was killed in a gunbattle with authorities later that afternoon.

Baker and Butler were the first and second Santa Cruz police officers killed on duty in the department.

"Our prayers and thoughts go out to all the families as they go through these difficult times," Capitola Police Chief Rudy Escalante told the group of police leaders.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris spoke Monday. Through Thursday, the conference includes training and professional development workshops and speeches by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former NFL star and Aptos High football standout Trent Dilfer, Gov. Jerry Brown and Massachusetts State Police Major Dermot Quinn, who will give a debriefing about the Boston Marathon bombing.

A trade show with police equipment also will take place, along with lectures about recent high-profile cases such as the search for Christopher Dorner. Dorner, a former Los Angeles police officer, shot several people and triggered a massive manhunt that led to his death in a fire in Big Bear in February 2013.

The California Police Chiefs Association also plans to pick its new president during the conference. Its current president, Covina Police Chief Kim Raney, wore a black band over his police badge to honor the fallen officers.

He said the tribute to the men and women who died in the line of duty is a perennial part of the chiefs' conference.

"These never get easier and they shouldn't," Raney told the group.

"I don't think we should ever forget the true cost of public safety."

Copyright 2014 the Santa Cruz Sentinel


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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