The annual roll call of police officers who died in the line of duty in Santa Cruz County included a new name when it was read during a memorial ceremony on Wednesday: Officer Jeremy Brinton of the Nogales Police Department.
Brinton, 40, died on May 21 after being struck by a vehicle the day before while directing traffic. He became the 19th person to be included in the roll call, read aloud every year at the Santa Cruz County Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony.
County Attorney George Silva, keynote speaker at Wednesday’s ceremony, said he had spoken at the event once before, early in his career as county attorney. This time, it was a different and more personal experience.
“I knew of them, but I did not know them,” Silva said of the officers whose names were read the first time he spoke.
“So it’s more difficult this time around,” he added, pausing as he choked up. “We know our officers, so it’s a little bit more difficult.”
A centerpiece of Wednesday’s ceremony was a wreath of red, white and blue carnations. The three colors represent officers who died of natural causes, those who died in the line of duty, and police dogs who died while working.
Brinton’s widow, Denise Brinton, placed a rose in her husband’s honor on the wreath, as did Alyssa Cordova, whose husband NPD Officer Jesus Cordova was murdered by a carjacking suspect in Nogales in 2018.
NPD Chief Roy Bermudez told the attendees that National Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week were founded in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy. Normally, corresponding events like the memorial ceremony held Wednesday at Karam Park are held during the week of May 15, but the pandemic pushed the plans back to September.
On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty every 63 hours in the United States, Bermudez told the attendees, adding that since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 25,150 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice. From the start of the year through Wednesday, Bermudez said, 311 law enforcement officers had been killed. There had also been 19 canine line-of-duty deaths.
The event was organized by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 10, and the organization’s Louis Ramirez read the roll call of fallen officers to the sound of a bagpipe playing “Amazing Grace.”