BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Thursday several Kern County law enforcement branches held special ceremonies to commemorate those who lost their lives in the line of duty in honor of Peace Officer Memorial Day.
At noon, the Bakersfield Police Department held a a countywide ceremony to honor all fallen law enforcement officers across Kern County.
Watch the event here:
The Kern County Sheriff’s Department held a somber and emotional ceremony Thursday morning at 10 a.m. to remember the 31 fallen on the force.
One by one, the 31 names of fallen officers were read and a plaque was placed on a memorial wall by KCSO leadership. The last name read was of Deputy Sheriff Philip Jesse Campas who was killed in the line of duty last July during a standoff at a home in Wasco.
Deputy Campas and another deputy were struck by the gunfire. They were both transported to a local hospital where Deputy Campas succumbed to his wounds. Deputy Campas’ family was also in attendance accompanied by Sheriff Donny Youngblood who placed the last plaque on the memorial wall with them.
Deputy Sheriff Campas was a U.S Marine Corps veteran and had served with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office for five years. He is survived by his wife, and three children.
“We never thought this memorial would grow to the number it did, but it did,” Youngblood said. “It takes a special person to put on that uniform and help people that don’t necessarily want our help.”
Since the genesis of KCSO in 1866, eight deputies have died in the line of duty due to gunfire.
Gunfire has been the second highest cause of death of KCSO deputies. The first cause of death of fallen deputies: automobile crashes.
Watch the event here:
Around 7 a.m. Thursday, the Bakersfield Police Department’s held a ceremony honoring the 10 Bakersfield Police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The community came together with police officers and family members of the fallen to remember their lives.
“These officers lost their lives in the line of duty, doing their job honorably, trying to protect our community,” said Sergeant Robert Pair with BPD. “It’s important, both for the surviving family members, as well as a community in the whole, that we honor that honorable sacrifice, and honor the notion of selfless service, and service with honor, that continues.”
Artwork from local high school students was on display honoring those officers and was then given to those officers’ surviving family members.
The California Highway Patrol honored fallen officers from the Bakersfield area in a ceremony at 8:30 a.m.
The memorial was dedicated to CHP Officer Scott Merritt, who passed away from complications due to COVID in September. Family and fellow officers remembered Merritt as a “good man” who served professionally and respectfully.
“With that still being fresh in everybody’s mind, he was a big part of our department as well as our community,” said Officer Tomas Martinez with CHP. “So we did want to pay special tribute to him.”
A wreath was laid in Merritt’s honor, and his name now adorns the CHP memorial outside of the agency’s Bakersfield office.
In total, 16 troopers and officers from the Bakersfield area were honored at the ceremony. Across more than a century, all lost their life in the line of duty.