The annual LASD Memorial Torch Relay Run is a chance to honor the memories of those who died serving their communities.
By Mary O’KEEFE
The LASD 39th Annual Memorial Torch Relay Run was held from May 13 to May 15. The run honored the memory of members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. who sacrificed their lives in the performance of their duties.
The run was established in 1976 as a way to remember all peace officers who died in the line of duty.
The run began at the Hall of Justice on Temple Street in Los Angeles on May 13 at 9 a.m. with a commemorative torch ceremony. Law enforcement officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. then carried the torch from LASD station to station. Runners included family members of fallen officers, family members of law enforcement officers and staff as well as community members and friends.
The Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station leg of the race was coordinated by Law Enforcement Technician Richard Engersbach whose job was to make sure the station had enough runners for the four legs of the relay for which they were responsible.
“We took the torch from the Palmdale [team] at Monte Cristo campground (on Angeles Forest Highway),” Engersbach said. “Our legs were from 5.2 to 5.5 miles each.”
This year the run was in memory of all the fallen officers in L.A. County including two members of LASD, two officers from the L.A. Police Dept., one from Monterey Park and an officer from Downey.
But for CV Station, special memories surrounded several who were lost. Those law enforcement officers who were stationed at CV when they lost their lives were Dep. David Horr, Dep. Charles D. Rea, Dep. Mike Carney and Sgt. Randy Rousseau.
“For us [at CV Station] that is more personal,” Engersbach added.
This is the third time that Reserve Deputy Collin Lievense has participated in the memorial relay.
“I am not typically a runner,” Lievense said. “I used to run in high school but that was a long time ago.”
The relay goes beyond just a run; it is the memory and respect that fuels the runners.
“It made me a little [emotional] thinking back. The whole point is to remember the [law enforcement lives] that were lost,” Lievense said.
He added he recently lost some people who were close to him and his wife. As he ran, he kept the memory of those lost close to him.
He started the first 5.2-mile leg at the Monte Cristo Campground.
“My wife and I ran together,” he said.
They brought one bike and, while one ran, the other rode. Lievense ran for a total of 40 minutes, then rode the bike for 20. Having his wife join him was nice because family members are left behind when tragedy occurs.
“It was nice [having her run]. That is a huge part of the [relay] – getting families involved,” he said.
He said families say goodbye to their law enforcement loved one when they head off to work not knowing what they may face that day.
“They are going out there, putting their lives on the line,” he said.
So any event that family can be involved in is a good event, he added.
The entire memorial torch relay consisted of 56 legs, each leg ranged from five to 10 miles and extended to each mainland LASD station totaling 313 miles. The relay ended at the Altadena Sheriffs Station.