California Peace Officers' Memorial
The memorial as it often appears when decorated for California Peace Officers' Memorial Day.
A two-day ceremony is held each year at the memorial on May 8, designated by state law as California Peace Officers' Memorial Day.
Excerpt from the program of the 40th Annual California Peace Officers' Memorial Ceremony in 2016. Gov. Jerry Brown signed this day into state law in 1976.
Peace Officers in Philadelphia commemorate national Peace Officers' Memorial Day (May 15) in 1965, three years after President John F. Kennedy made the day one of official national recognition (Temple University Libraries).
The Memorial's plaza on the Capitol Mall. The Peace Officers' Memorial is one of the closest monuments to the Capitol Building itself.
A closer view of one of the memorial plaques with the three 9-foot statues in background.
Backstory and Context
California’s Peace Officers have served since the state’s earliest days. Sheriff Joseph McKinney, considered to be the first officially designated California officer killed in the line of duty, died before the state was officially ratified by Congress in the Sacramento Squatters’ Riots of August 1850. Since then, the names of over 1,500 officers have been added to the list of the honored dead.
In 1976, then-Governor Jerry Brown signed a law authorizing a committee of officers to fundraise for a Peace Officers’ memorial on the state capitol grounds. The memorial’s original form was a glass case containing two swords and a leather-bound book, in which were written all the names of California’s slain officers. In 1985, however, Governor Deukmejian encouraged legislation that would expand the memorial. A 9-member Peace Officers’ Commission was established to lead the effort, consisting of eight officers and one widow.
On May 13, 1988, the new monument was unveiled to the public in a ceremony presided over by Governor Deukmejian. Designed and sculpted by retired Los Angeles County Sheriff Division Chief Vic Riesau, the new monument featured three 9-foot tall figures, each representing a different era in California law enforcement: a County Sheriff of the 1880s, a state traffic officer of the 1930s, and a city patrolman of the 1880s. Additionally, the sculpted, life-size figures of a mother and child are perched on a nearby bench, with a bronze American flag folded beside them.
Surrounding the base of the statue are plaques containing the names of every Peace Officer whose life has been lost in the line of duty. A two-day ceremony is held each year on May 8, designated by state law as California Peace Officers’ Memorial Day (separate from the national Peace Officers’ Memorial Day on May 15, but still in close proximity to Police Week, which is designated as the week in which May 15 falls).
Arghandewal, Ariana, "California Peace Officer’s Memorial Sacramento, California Peace Officer’s Memorial Capitol Park," Pointchaser. 20 Feb, 2014. http://pointchaser.com/hotel-review-hyatt-regency-sacramento/california-peace-officers-memorial-sacr... (accessed April 3, 2018)
Honoring California's Fallen Peace Officers. California State Law Enforcement Association. May 03, 2016. Accessed April 03, 2018. https://cslea.com/2016/05/honoring-californias-fallen-peace-officers/. Multiple photos of May 3 ceremony.
General Information. CAMemorial.org. . Accessed April 03, 2018. https://camemorial.org/the-memorial/general-information/.
History. CAMemorial.org. . Accessed April 03, 2018. https://camemorial.org/the-memorial/history/
California State Capitol Museum. Capitol Park Monument and Memorial Guide. 2016. http://capitolmuseum.ca.gov/images/pdf/CapitolParkMemorialBooklet.pdf