SACRAMENTO — The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremonies are held the first week of May at the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Monument in Sacramento on State Capitol grounds.
The ceremonies serve to formally enroll peace officers who have died in the line of duty the preceding year, pay tribute to the hundreds of officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice since California became a state, and to honor the families left behind.
“This May 1 and 2, we were honored to attend the Peace Officers Memorial Ceremonies,” the Gardena Police Department said. “We had the privilege and honor of having Officer Toshio Hirai finally enshrined on the Peace Officers Memorial Wall. This ceremony had been postponed due to the global pandemic.
“Toshio’s family, Mayor (Tasha) Cerda, Mayor Pro Tem (Rodney) Tanaka and several members of our department were there to witness and participate in this celebration of Toshio’s life. It was an honor to have them there representing us and the city.
“There are three Gardena police officers’ names on the memorial.”
Hirai, 34, a motorcycle officer and a 12-year veteran of the department, died in November 2018 from injures suffered in a collision with another vehicle in Harbor City. He was survived by his wife, his 2-year-old son, and his parents.
The other Gardena police officers who have died in the line of duty were Reserve Officer Donald E. Bacon (1956) and Officer Robert D. Melton (2003).
Dedicated on May 13, 1988, the centerpiece of the monument is a 13-foot-tall bronze relief sculpture featuring three law enforcement officers: an 1880s county sheriff, a 1930s state traffic officer, and a 1980s city patrolman. Together, these figures represent the evolution of law enforcement in California.
On the base of the monument are inscribed these words: “In the Line of Duty.” Along the back of the monument and on a brick planter box in from of the monument are individual plaques with the names of individual officers.
Another important element of the monument is a bronze sculpture depicting a woman comforting a child. The seated woman rests on a bench embracing a child standing in front of her. Next to them is a bronze folded American flag.
The artist who designed the monument was himself a retired police officer. Retired Division Chief Vic Riesau, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, not only designed the monument and created the artwork but also assisted with the fundraising efforts.
The memorial is located at 1315 10th St., Sacramento.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.