Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced that the week of May 11 is National Police Week, which honors officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
Yolo County law enforcement and the Yolo County Retired Peace Officer Association is sponsoring a Peace Officer Memorial “Walk to Remember” at noon Thursday, May 15. The walk will start at the Yolo County Peace Officer Memorial on the grounds of the Yolo County Courthouse, 725 Court St. in Woodland.
National Police Week began as a memorial service attended by 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement and has evolved into a weeklong event that gives survivors and other supporters an opportunity to come together and honor those law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
Originating in 1962 with President John F. Kennedy signing a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, the event held in Washington, D.C., hosts thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world, honors those officers who have died and provides support and supportive services to the families and friends.
The Yolo County Retired Peace Officers Association spearheaded an effort to get a memorial erected for fallen Yolo County law enforcement officers. This effort led to the unveiling of the memorial last year on the Yolo County Courthouse grounds.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund in the past 10 years, 1,794 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty. This is an average of 163 officers killed per year, or one line-of-duty death every 53 hours. Additionally, FBI records indicate an annual average of 59,069 assaults on officers with 16,041 injuries.
Yolo County has had 11 deaths since 1912. Most recently, the murder of Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Diaz occurred on June 15, 2008.
The following is a known list of the Yolo County peace officers who have died in the line of duty, the date of their end of watch and how they died:
California Highway Patrol
* Officer Andrew Stevens: Nov. 17, 2005, gunfire
* Sgt. Gary Wagers: March 15, 2001, vehicle collision
* Officer William Freeman: Dec. 22, 1978, gunfire
* Officer Roy Blecher: Dec. 22, 1978, gunfire
* Officer Ivan Casselman: Aug. 24, 1935, motorcycle collision
Yolo County Sheriff’s Office
* Deputy Jose “Tony” Diaz: June 15, 2008, gunfire
* Deputy Walter Leinberger: Nov. 18, 1943, gunfire
Winters Police Department
* City Marshall William Rice: Oct. 18, 1912, gunfire
West Sacramento Police Department
* Officer James McKnight: June 16, 1990, gunfire
Davis Police Department
* Officer Douglas Cantrill: Sept. 7, 1959, gunfire
Woodland Police Department
* Officer Lawrence Sills: June 13, 1945, motorcycle collision