By Mary O’KEEFE
On May 20 the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will begin a relay that will last three days and cover over 300 miles. For 34 years the annual Peace Officers Memorial Run has recognized officers who have given their lives in performance of their duty.
“It mimics the Olympic torch event. We will light a torch at the [LASD] headquarters [in Monterey Park],” said organizer retired LASD Lt. Rocky Costa.
Members of the department, both sworn officers and volunteers, run from station to station passing the torch to fellow officers.
“The relay started informally [with] a couple of deputies. In its first year those two deputies ran half the course themselves. It has grown since then, ” Costa said. “The relay is [in honor] of all officers killed in the state of California from the day of the run back through history. We specifically recognize officers that were killed [the previous year] in 2010.”
The memorial recognizes officers in all law enforcement agencies, not just those in the LASD.
This year two will be specifically recognized and remembered, LASD Deputy Charlene Rotter and California Highway Patrol Officer Philip Ortiz.
“Deputy Rotter was involved in a [traffic] accident while on duty in 1972. Her injuries were life threatening and she required about 50 surgeries,” Costa said.
It was due to those injuries that she died in 2010. The last station where she served was Altadena.
CHP Officer Ortiz, 48, died on June 23, 2010, about two weeks after he suffered severe injuries in a traffic accident. The motorcycle officer was conducting a traffic stop on an SUV on the San Diego (405) freeway. A driver of an Infiniti attempted to pass on the right shoulder and struck the officer. Otriz was a 28-year CHP veteran.
“There are 60 legs. We begin at 9 a.m. on May 20 and will arrive at the Altadena Station about 4:15 p.m. on May 22,” Costa said.
Crescenta Valley station members begin at leg 52 at Angeles Crest Highway and run several legs that cover from Big Tujunga to Foothill Boulevard and Mt. Gleason Avenue and on to the Crescenta Valley Station.
“And this year at the request of the Captain [Dave Silversparre] we will be adding another leg from the CV Station to La Cañada High School. [Capt. Silversparre] is inviting the public to run that leg,” Costa said.
Silversparre wanted to involve the community in the event and is inviting anyone who would like to run, bike or skate the almost four miles to join the relay.
“We will run at about an 11 minute mile pace,” Silversparre said. “We run as a group with any bicyclists and skaters just behind the runners.”
Silversparre wanted to give the community an opportunity to honor the officers.
“It is a way to have the public that wish to honor the officers to run alongside [members of CV Station],” Silversparre said.
Those who would like to run are asked to meet at the CV Sheriff’s Station at 4554 North Briggs Avenue at 1:30 p.m. on May 22. The end of the run be at will be at LCHS, 4463 Oak Grove Avenue, La Cañada.
“Runners [cyclist or skaters] should be dropped off at the station and then arrange to be picked up at the high school,” Silversparre added.
Those participating will be escorted by the CV Sheriff’s Station during the run. Water will not be provided so it is suggested that participants bring their own water.