Yolo County law enforcement agencies will honor officers killed in the line of duty at a memorial ceremony on May 16

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The week of May 12 is National Police Week, which honors officers who have been killed in the line of duty.  

National Police Week has evolved over the years. What began as a Memorial Service attended by 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement has evolved into a week-long 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 week-long event held in Washington D.C. hosts thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world.  The Memorial Day also offers several events honors those officers who have died and provides support and supportive services to the families and friends. 

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is the nation’s monument to law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. Dedicated on October 15, 1991, the Memorial honors nearly 22,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of our nation and its people since the first known Line of Duty death in 1791. The California Peace Officer Memorial located at 10th Street and Capitol Mall in Sacramento was unveiled on May 13, 1988, as a memorial for these California officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The Yolo County Retired Peace Officers Association spearheaded the effort to get a memorial erected for fallen Yolo County law enforcement officers. This effort led to the unveiling of the memorial in 2013 on the grounds of the old historical Yolo County Superior Courthouse on Court Street.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) in the past ten years 1,582 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty. This is an average of 158 officers killed per year. There were 158 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2018, eight of which were from the State of California. 

Yolo County has endured the loss of 12 of its community protectors since 1912. Most recently, the murder of Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona, which occurred on January 10, 2019. 

The following Yolo County Peace Officers are listed as officers who have died in the line of duty, the date of their End of Watch (EOW) and how they died.

California Highway Patrol

Officer Andrew Stevens EOW: November 17, 2005 Cause: Gunfire

Sergeant Gary Wagers EOW: March 15, 2001 Cause: Vehicle Collision

Officer William Freeman EOW: December 22, 1978 Cause: Gunfire

Officer Roy Blecher EOW: December 22, 1978 Cause: Gunfire

Officer Ivan Casselman EOW: August 24, 1935 Cause: Motorcycle Collision

Yolo County Sheriff’s Office 

Deputy Jose “Tony” EOW: June 15, 2008 Cause: Gunfire

Deputy Walter Leinberger EOW: November 18, 1943 Cause: Gunfire

Winters Police Department 

City Marshall William Rice EOW: October 18, 1912 Cause: Gunfire

West Sacramento Police Department

Officer James McKnight EOW: June 16, 1990 Cause: Gunfire

Davis Police Department 

Officer Douglas Cantrill EOW: September 7, 1959 Cause: Gunfire

Officer Natalie Corona EOW: January 10, 2019 Cause: Gunfire

Woodland Police Department

Officer Lawrence Sills EOW: June 13, 1945 Cause: Motorcycle Collision

On Thursday, May 16,  the Yolo County Retired Peace Officers Association, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, along with all local law enforcement agencies, will host a Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony. The public is invited to gather beginning at 12 p.m. The ceremony will begin at 12:15 p.m., with the walk to remember immediately following the ceremony. The walk is about one mile in length.

For more information, contact Wendy Wilcox at wendy.wilcox@yolocounty.org.

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