From Friday to Sunday, peace officers ran a 339-mile relay race to honor the Los Angeles County fallen as part of the Annual Peace Officers Memorial Torch Run.
The relay was established in 1976 to honor the memory of those who dedicated their life to their career and died in the performance of their duty. Each year a list of officers is released. Peace officers run during their off duty hours to honor their fellow officers.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department takes part in the memorial run and this year the Montrose Search and Rescue members added one of their own to the roster. He did not die while on duty, but his dedication to his team and serving others were qualities that MSR team members wanted to honor.
Joe Venkus had served on the MSR team for about 20 years; he retired a few years ago and passed away earlier this year.
“He was strong as an ox,” recalled Mike Leum, MSR member.
He added that Venkus was always training and was a vital member of the team.
In the Angeles National Forest, MSR member Cindy England received the relay torch.
“She had a real tough leg,” Leum said. “A lot of it up hill.”
England handed off to member Robert Sheedy, who then passed the torch to Leum who ran to the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station. He ran his leg in full search and rescue uniform, with boots and a backpack, in honor of Venkus.
“I think he would have liked that,” he said.
This year, peace officers chosen by the LASD to honor were Officer Anthony A. Giniewicz of the Signal Hill Police Department, who was critically injured by gunfire on Feb. 19, 1985.
Officer Giniewicz and his partner Officer Owens, both off duty at the time, were dining out. Owens left the restaurant and was accosted and robbed by three men in the parking lot. He went back into the restaurant and told Giniewicz who followed his partner out into the parking lot. The suspects shot at the officers as they drove away. Giniewicz was struck in the chest by the suspect’s gunfire. He succumbed to his injuries on Dec. 7, 2011 according to LASD.
Officer Ryan Stringer, Alhambra Police Department, was responding to a robbery in progress on July 10, 2011 when his vehicle collided with another patrol vehicle. Both officers were transported to the hospital with serious injuries. Stringer succumbed to those injuries.
Officer Andrew Garton, Hawthorne Police Department, was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident on May 26, 2011. He was assisting in a funeral possession for a fallen officer. While working traffic control, his motorcycle collided with a motor officer from another agency. Garton was critically injured and died.
Officer Constable Ed Brown, LACSD, died on Sept. 14, 1924 when he was shot in the abdomen during a gun battle in Newhall.