Elton Gallegly addresses the Santa Paula Police Memorial dedication last Saturday. (Photo by Brian D. Wilson)

Gallegly: SPPD Memorial dedication remarks follow release of journalists

May 27, 2011
Santa Paula News

Just two days after a weeks long behind the scenes effort to help free two American journalists held by the Libyan government ended with their release, Representative Elton Gallegly attended the dedication of the Santa Paula Police Memorial.

Before the memorial dedication ceremony began Gallegly said his effort to secure the release of the journalists was “a real roller coaster ride” that included his calling one of the sons of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and making a “humanitarian appeal” on behalf of the journalists. Gallegly also worked with ambassadors from Turkey and Hungary who also were working on the release effort, and met with one of the reporter’s parents.

On Thursday Gallegly received confirmation that the two Americans - Clare Morgana Gillis, a freelancer for The Atlantic and USA Today, and James Foley, a reporter for the GlobalPost news agency - had finally left Libya and would soon be on their way back to the United States. Two other foreign journalists detained at about the same time as the Americans were also freed.

“I, everyone, was really relieved” at the successful outcome of the communications, said Gallegly. “And I’m very happy to be in Santa Paula for this wonderful event,” the dedication of the Santa Paula Police Memorial.

The memorial, located just west of the historic Depot, honors Marshal Henry N. Norman, gunned down in November 1913, and Officer James Barmore, killed in a motorcycle accident while responding to a call in February 1953. The monument and brick courtyard entryways also honor all SPPD personnel, past and present, who protect and serve Santa Paulans.

“This is really about the community of Santa Paula... there are not too many places in California that have this sense of community.” And that extends to the SPPD, which, Gallegly noted, is notable for its can do attitude and willingness to handle any task.

“The police department is the heart, the core of the community,” which Gallegly said on the local level has been demonstrated over the decades on SPPD ride-alongs, including those with former Chiefs Walt Adair and Bob Gonzales. “It’s the only way to really get to know a community, and one thing there is never any doubt about is the Santa Paula community really supports its public safety.”

Gallegly was among the speakers at Saturday’s dedication. He also brought flags presented to Barmore and Norman family members that were flown over the nation’s Capitol.

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