City Council praises SP Police Memorial, dedication ceremony

June 22, 2011
Santa Paula City Council

The city’s latest monument drew positive comment from the City Council at the June 6 meeting when they complimented the Santa Paula Police Memorial as well as the ceremony that accompanied the unveiling.

More than 350 people including present and former SPPD staffers attended the May 21 dedication, held at the memorial located just west of the historic Depot on East Santa Barbara Street in Railroad Plaza.

The memorial honors Santa Paula’s fallen officers, Marshal Henry Norman, killed in the line of duty in November 1913, and almost 40 years later Officer James Barmore, who died in a February 1953 motorcycle accident.

The 10-foot tall obelisk with plaques honoring Norman and Barmore - as well as SPPD badges and patches - is set amid a courtyard with brick-line entry points. Each brick carries the name of a present or former SPPD officer or other personnel, reflecting that the monument honors all who serve.

The $30,000 memorial was created through donations including the sale of engraved bricks, and its dedication coincided with National Police Officer Memorial Week.

Councilman Ralph Fernandez said the dedication was “a great ribbon cutting.” Memorial Committee Chairman Nils Rueckert, as well Police Chief Steve MacKinnon, Lt. Carlos Juarez and Sgt. Ishmael Cordero - who were among those who also served on the committee - did “a great job... it turned out really well,” and many attended what Fernandez said was a “wonderful event.”

Vice Mayor Bob Gonzales, the city’s former police chief, said “Nils, Carlos and the chief led the charge on this while thing.” Gonzales said he has attended memorial ceremonies “in the nation’s Capitol, Washington, D.C.,” as well as in Sacramento and Ventura, and “A little known fact is one of our former sergeants [Steve Carter] designed the monument at the Ventura County Government Center.”

When it came to the actual dedication, Gonzales said, “I never saw a ceremony as appropriate as the one done in Santa Paula... it was quick, it was to the point, it was information... the memorial was something in the making, something people wanted for years.” Gonzales thanked MacKinnon for his leadership of the ceremony, “second to none” on the national, state and county level, and “I thought it was great.”

Mayor Fred Robinson agreed: “The police memorial was as professional an event as I have ever attended; everyone was on cue, everybody looked sharp, they were timely... it was very, very appropriate.... I was very pleased to have a very, very small part in setting the wreath” at the memorial.

Robinson urged those who have not yet visited the memorial to do so: “Please take an opportunity to stop by and view the new memorial; it is quite impressive.”

The Railroad Plaza area now boasts numerous attractions, including the Farm Workers Monument - the only one in the nation - and The Warning statue, Floating Granite Ball, Gazebo, historic Depot and The Mill, the latter now being readied to hold the Ventura County Agricultural Museum. The plaza area also has the Bear sculpture and is undergoing some construction as part of the Santa Paula Branch Line Bicycle Trail.

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