It was “Remembrance Day” last Friday at Garfield Park in South Pasadena.
Local police and fire department authorities gathered around a tree planted in honor of Officer Kevin Sandoval, who lost his life on June 14, 2011 in the line of duty during a training exercise at Burro Canyon Shooting Park in Azusa.
A 3-year veteran of the South Pasadena Police Department, fellow officers say Sandoval will always be remembered as a dedicated, compassionate and loyal to friends and family.
“The overwhelming support this community has provided the Sandoval family, and the South Pasadena Police Department family over the last eight years is greatly appreciated,” South Pasadena Police Chief Joe Ortiz told the crowd. “We are truly blessed to have your support as we continue to heal from this tragic loss.”
Ortiz explained that as an officer, he has attended many memorial services of fallen officers during his long career in law enforcement “and was always afforded the opportunity to stand in the back,” he explained. “Never in a million years did I ever think that as a new chief of the police department, I would be standing in front of a community that grieves over the loss of this phenomenal young man as if the tragic incident had just happened yesterday. Kevin, we will never forget you!”
The memorial included opening remarks and a prayer delivered by Chaplain Dan Bricker, reflections from friends, along with moving words by Ortiz, hoping from “this day forward we can meet here at this memorial every year to never forget Kevin.”
Leading up to the memorial, the police chief stressed that it has been a difficult week for the family and the police department “with so many emotions in our hearts as we prepared to say good bye, again to a brother, a son, a colleague and a police officer for the South Pasadena Police Department.”
Added Ortiz: “I don’t know where we go from here, I know we will move on, I know that we will find our way but right now, it’s difficult. Many are re-visiting emotions that we put on a shelf and it’s not easy.”
He told Sandoval family members he was sorry, but reassured them his fellow officers “will always be here for you. Know that there are members of this department who think of Kevin hourly, daily and weekly and always will.”
It’s not goodbye, insisted Ortiz.
“It’s we will see you soon,” he said.