Oakland Police Memorial

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Last Saturday on March 21st 2009,

I returned home in the evening to numerous phone calls from my co-workers who gave me the shocking news that 4 Oakland Police Officers had been gunned down earlier in the day…

Today, those 4 heroes were honored at a memorial service at Oracle Arena attended by over 22,000 people. Police Officers from across the country, Fire Fighters, Military Personnel, Government dignitaries, and thousands of citizens attended this very emotional and moving ceremony to pay respect to 4 men who were all remembered as beloved Fathers, Sons, Uncles, Brothers, Friends, Partners, and -  Police Officers for the City of Oakland.

Sgt. Mark Dunakin
Sgt. Ervin Romans
Sgt. Daniel Sakai
and Officer John Hege

Most people in life may never actually understand the dangerous challenges police officers face on a daily basis. Some people’s opinion may be limited to that one time they got a ticket for speeding on the freeway, or riding a pwc too fast in a no wake zone, or for talking on a cellphone while driving.

Chances are, you’ve never had to call a cop because you just got robbed at gunpoint by a career criminal parolee who places no value on your life – or anyone else’s. Chances are, you’ve never been involved in a high speed pursuit of a subject considered armed and dangerous. Chances are, you’ve never had to respond and diffuse a violent domestic violence call. Chances are you’ve never been shot at, or had rocks and bottles thrown at you in a riot situation.

We are used to hearing about occasional incidents where a single officer’s life is taken in a situation that took a tragic turn, but in this case 4 officers were killed during the deadly confrontation with this suspect…

We learned today, about the faces behind the badges. We learned about what kind of people Mark, John, Erv, and Dan were away from work. Loving Fathers, sons of proud Fathers and Mothers, Brothers, Uncles, Teachers, role models, coaches, neighbors, and best friends to all. We also learned what exceptional police officers and partners they were – in the city they loved to work.

I’ve attended way too may police funerals in my 22 years as a cop – and the one for a close friend will always hurt the worst – but today’s outpouring of support by so many was beyond overwhelming… I thought about a lot of things today. The pride I have for my profession. The brotherhood of the badge. People’s conceptions of police officers. How bad it sucks when life is unexpectedly taken away in an instant, and good-byes and I love you’s can’t be said. It was clear today to see just how many people loved Mark, John, Erv, and Dan – and it was equally as clear to see how much these 4 larger than life hero’s loved their families, friends, co-workers, and their chosen profession as police officers.

I ask you as well – to love and remember these guys for who they were in life.

For what they represented. For the ultimate sacrifice they made. There are thousands of different jobs and professions in life, but few where your life can change from having a cup of coffee at starbucks, to moments later being engaged in a violent gunfight with a violent criminal. The stern looking cop who might give you a ticket for being reckless and endangering yourself or others, could very well be the same individual who is called to face danger beyond most people’s comprehension – and if they are challenged to make the ultimate sacrifice, they will do so without hesitation, without fear, without regret, and they will do it for you…

Just like Mark, John, Erv, and Dan.

True heroes who will be remembered forever? Absolutely.

Please remember them and their families in your prayers tonight.

I pray for the safety of my own brother – also a police officer in the Bay Area.

I pray for the safety of my partners at work.

I pray for every member of the Oakland Police Department.

And I pray for the safety of police officers around the world who all share one thing in common…

We serve and protect – and we do it with honor – day in and day out.

All who know us – all who love us – and all who work with us know with certainty,

that if the unthinkable happens and we are taken away unexpectedly,

we were doing what we loved more than anything in this world

and regardless of outcome – we will have no regrets.

The pain and sorrow felt within the ranks of the Oakland PD will be present for a long time to come,

and this tragic loss will always be a constant reminder of the risks and dangers

every police officer faces on a daily basis – but the love and support

from the citizens of the cities we serve, makes the pain just alittle bit more bearable…

That was more than evident today and I cannot begin to tell you

just how much that means to the families left behind… 

Sgt. Mark Dunakin
Sgt. Ervin Romans
Sgt. Daniel Sakai
and Officer John Hege

I salute you for who you were as police officers,

I commend you for how you lived your lives at work and home,

I thank you for all you gave to the citizens of Oakland,

and we will never forget you – or your families you left behind…

Rest in peace always –

Jim Lambert

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