Santa Paula Times

(Top photo) Hundreds of people attended Saturday’s dedication of the Santa Paula Police Memorial honoring two fallen officers. (Photo bottom left) Police Chief Stephen MacKinnon (left front) and Lt. Carlos Juarez (right) flank a memorial wreath for the two fallen officers. (Bottom right) Bricks at the entry to the memorial list the names of many who have served at the police department over the years. Above, relatives look on at the names.

Norman, Barmore: Hundreds attend Santa Paula Police Memorial dedication

May 25, 2011
Santa Paula Police Department

Hundreds of people attended Saturday’s dedication of the Santa Paula Police Memorial honoring two fallen officers, an event that was part history, part reunion and all gratitude to those who protect and serve.

Although the 10-foot-tall obelisk memorial located just west of the historic Depot specially addresses the Ends of Watch of Marshal Henry “Hugh” Newton Norman and Motorcycle Officer James Edwin Barmore, the monument also pays tribute to all personnel who serve public safety, past and present. Patrolling Norman was fatally shot and passed away November 25, 1913, and Barmore was killed when his motorbike careened out of control on February 7, 1953 as he responded to an emergency call.

“I’m excited... and relieved,” said Nils Rueckert, who chaired the committee that created the monument. “It’s great to have all this work come to a worthwhile ending.”

Many who attended looked for the courtyard entry bricks they donated to mark the service of former and present SPPD personnel. Some bricks had photos temporarily taped to them representing those who could not be present for the dedication.

A vintage 1950s SPPD black and white patrol car was on display, as were modern day crime fighting vehicles and equipment. The ladder on a Santa Paula Fire Engine flew the flag.

Joining present Chief Stephen MacKinnon were former Chiefs James Corrigan, Walt Adair and Bob Gonzales, the latter now vice mayor. Adair was wearing a SPPD pin: “I was proud to be an officer too,” and as chief, “I had the best the city had to offer... I was grateful to do it.”

Also in attendance were Romeo Lopez and his sister Irma Lopez, whose stepfather was the city’s first police Chief Lee Sheppard, and the widow of Chief Ray Tull, Norma Tull and son Loren Tull. Many past SPPD officers were also in attendance, some such as Sgt. Bill Saviers long retired, others working for other agencies but returning for the dedication.

“I’ll never forget Santa Paula” where he got his start, said Alex Rangel, now an Oxnard Police sergeant.

City Councilman Rick Cook, a retired SPPD sergeant, as well as Councilman Ralph Fernandez and Jim Tovias attended the dedication, as did special guest Representative Elton Gallegly.

The Santa Paula Police Color Guard started the program that featured the National Anthem sung by Amanda Corral. SPPD Chaplain Walter Harper led the Invocation, noting that California experienced the loss of eight officers including Norman in 1913 and 11 officers 40 years later in 1953, the year Barmore, like the others, “made the ultimate sacrifice.”

It is a sacrifice deeply felt by loved ones and colleagues, noted Chief MacKinnon as he read a sampling of tributes left on the National Police Memorial. “’I am the person I am in large part because of my Dad...’ ‘Thirty plus years my beloved husband and you are still in my heart daily...’ ‘Your sacrifice for a fellow officer will not be forgotten... ‘ Rest in peace brother for a job well done... ‘ ‘We know you’re looking down on us...’” were among the tributes that noted birthdays, anniversaries, greetings from colleagues and others, words that all expressed longing and loss.

Saturday was the last day of National Police Memorial Week, and ceremonies were held across the nation. “This year Santa Paula joins those cities, counties and states throughout the nation to add one more memorial to honor those who have fallen.” MacKinnon asked that all past SPPD officers rise and be recognized, and thanked those who attended on behalf of SPPD personnel “for attending this ceremony with us.”

Said Mayor Fred Robinson, “Let us remember each time we pass the monument” officers “past, present and future that protect our community.”

Although gathered for a “solemn remembrance” of the two fallen officers, Rueckert noted the gathering also served as a celebration of law enforcement and its mission. He detailed the creation of the monument, and noted that without Lt. Carlos Juarez’ efforts in locating past police personnel, research, fundraising and even the dedication of the monument would not have been possible.

“Unlike most of us, public safety is on duty” around the clock, putting their lives on the line every day. “It might be taken for granted that these public safety people will return safe and sound from their shift,” said Rueckert, “Then one day they don’t. That’s what wife Betty Barmore and son Tim Barmore faced on that fateful day in February 1953. That’s what the wife of Marshal Norman and their three surviving children faced in November 1913. The danger that officers face each day inspires a special loyalty to our public safety community.”

Rueckert concluded his remarks noting, “Our Santa Paula Police Memorial Committee’s work was indeed a privilege for us, and we present this monument to you today, with a salute to each of you with our gratitude.”

Rep. Gallegly said, “It’s an incredible honor to represent Santa Paula... I’m going on my third decade and have met so many incredible people,” including those serving public safety. “This Santa Paula Police Department represents the quintessential of what every department should be... no one is too important to do any one task.”

He noted his relationships with Adair, Gonzales and Sgt. Ishmael Cordero, who also served on the SPPD Monument Committee, and thanked Cordero and Juarez for their efforts that “cannot be overstated.”

Gallegly said it was an honor to meet Barmore’s widow, Betty Barmore Players and her son Tim and grandson Josh, as well as descendents of Marshal Norman’s including great-grandson Robert Schlichter, and present them with flags flown over the nation’s Capitol. “So many things come to pass,” he added, “but the one constant is Santa Paula supports its law enforcement” and in turn garners a “greater level of confidence” knowing the men and women they are protected by.

Retired El Dorado County Sheriff Hal Barker noted his career started in Santa Paula: “There are so many memories,” and noting the size of the crowd he added, “It’s not often cops see great outpourings of support... that’s what makes Santa Paula great.” Barker read the tribute to Marshal Norman and described his End of Watch.

Former SPPD Sgt. Art Sallee recalled the day he and his partner James Barmore were on patrol and Barmore was killed. He had met Barmore years before when as teenagers and Santa Paula Fillmore rivals the two had fought. “It turned out badly for me,” Sallee admitted, but afterwards Barmore “came right up to me and shook my hand... Jim was a good man.”

Superior Court Judge Ryan Wright said he was “humbled to be invited” to be the featured speaker, as “I can think of no greater honor” than speaking on behalf of police officers. Wright noted he is familiar with Santa Paula that “has a feeling like no other city in the county.”

A law enforcement career is demanding to attain, and even more demanding to maintain, and Wright said officers “accept the burden, answer the call” of duty unlike any other. And a duty that safety is not always guaranteed: The monument “is a place to remember, a place of reflection and hope” and a remembrance of families that had to find “strength and courage” in the face of incredible loss. The hope, said Wright, is that the monument never carries another name of a fallen officer.

Cordero oversaw the Bell Ceremony and the Unveiling of the Fallen Officer Plaques, and MacKinnon and Robinson placed the Never Forgotten memorial wreath at the monument. The Barmore and Norman family members received the flags from Chief MacKinnon, and there was a 21 Gun Salute followed by Taps. VCSD Capt. Rod Nelson played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.

“Last year,” Juarez told the crowd, “Chief MacKinnon made this monument one of our goals and objectives... we did meet that goal.” He noted that the plaques for Norman and Barmore face the officers and personnel of their eras.

Replica memorial bricks were presented to Tim Barmore, “who was only 18 months old when his father passed,” and to Rueckert for his leadership in creating the monument.

After conversations with Betty Barmore Players, Santa Paula Historical Society President Mary Alice Orcutt Henderson charged Rueckert with the task of creating the monument. “I asked him what he’s going to do next,” Henderson said with a laugh.

“It’s doesn’t feel like the end but the beginning,” said Betty Barmore Players of the monument honoring her late husband. “It’s so good for our son Tim and Jim’s grandchild” to see that the actions of James Barmore, like those of Henry Norman - to protect and serve the public with no thought of self - did not go unappreciated.