I was having a conversation with a retired LAPD officer the other day and the topic revolved around “How soon People Forget Those Who Put Their Lives On The Line For Others!”
And I had to agree with him. The Medal Of Valor is the highest honor that the LAPD can bestow upon their officers. And it all starts with the pomp and pageantry, the celebrities, the great oration and the presentation of the medals. And then everybody forgets about them, who they were and why they were so honored. Well today I’m going to change all that for our Local Unsung heroes.
LAPD Medal Of Valor Recipients Fernando Sanchez and Alejandro Valencia,
In a solemn yet joyous celebration, 15 members of the Los Angeles Police Department were presented awards for outstanding service. Two of the officers from the Foothill Division were presented the Medal of Valor, the highest award that the LAPD can give.
Foothill Division officers Fernando Sanchez, Alejandro Valencia, and 11 other officers who received the Purple Heart award, one posthumously, were introduced to the more than 700 guests who came to the ceremony. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis narrated each of their stories and displayed sincere emotion as she served as the event’s mistress of ceremonies. Foothill Division Medal of Valor recipients Sanchez and Valencia were pursuing a suspected DUI driver during a short vehicle chase when the suspect abruptly stopped his vehicle, and fired a weapon at the officers.
During the encounter, Sanchez lost his footing fell and broke his wrist. Valencia thought his partner had been shot and opened fire on the suspect, a documented gang member. Sanchez was shot in the process, but the suspect was mortally wounded. The Purple Heart recipients were Sgts. Michael Flanagan and Stacy Lim, detectives Lovie Nettles and Norman Eckles and officers Franck Peter, Kristina Ripatti, James Veenstra, Felix Vera, Jack Storey, Joseph Ortega and Oscar Joel Bryant.
“These stories make you want to cry,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “They fill you with emotion. He said “the LAPD’s 9,993 officers comprise the finest police department in the country.” As the mayor of Los Angeles, Villaraigosa said he could not be more proud of the department.
“And I know your families are proud,” he said. Police Chief Charlie Beck said officers routinely risk their lives for people they do not know, and that is the “hallmark of policing in Los Angeles.” He said that people sometimes comment that he has a tough job, but that it pales in comparison to those in the field. Addressing the assembled officers, he continued “There is nothing more challenging than being in a dark alley with gunfire in the air,” Beck said. “None of you are born to run toward gunfire, but all of you do.” Jamie Lee Curtis summed it all up in saying about the officers, “They live by a strict moral compass that guides them like guardians from those who wish to do us harm.”
History is littered with those who made great discoveries, performed great deeds or just changed the World, but what about those names that only appear in our everyday lives? Names that don’t jump out at you like Einstein or Pasteur?
Possibly all of those things. I really hope that you the reader, will contribute names and stories of your “unsung heroes.” Those who make you feel good when you hear their names. Everyday people doing everyday things. Things that make life easier and safer for those around us. I want you to think about the last time you really read a great uplifting story. I know that you have read stories about the dog that saved his master or how the bear wandering the neighborhood was returned safely to the wild.
But the truth is that happy stories are far and few between. And what about the story that was so good you had to re-read it, and when you wanted to be updated on the story, it had just simply disappeared? “Old News,” they say.
Officer Brent Talmo was just another person, a neighbor, a community member that did his job and went home every night. But unlike the “masked crusader” who retires to his secret identity and forgets the daily mayhem that surrounded him, our police officers have to go back to their homes, wives and families, their “other” life. Their stories are never really covered.
Talmo started his law enforcement career by joining the Los Angeles County Sheriff department in 1986 and then moved on to the Los Angeles Housing Authority Police Department in 1990 and the Hawaiian Gardens Police department long known for its gang-infested areas and high crime rates. He stayed with them until Hawaiian Gardens P.D. closed in 1998. The Maywood P.D. was his next assignment and he was assigned as a training officer to the patrol division and later became a Senior Lead Officer in the Los Angeles Housing Authority drug elimination program. Moving up through the ranks he became a field training officer, acting sergeant and team leader. He became a Sergeant and was assigned to the detectives division in April 2004. Not only was Talmo a dedicated officer but he went the extra mile in his skills and training as an emergency medical technician and drug recognitions expert. He took classes on problem- oriented policing of SWAT operations and a course in Handling People with Tact and Diplomacy and as a Peacemaker. Talmo was given awards for working with the Traffic Collisions Board, the Special Response Teams, and for being a team leader.
Talmo was presented the Police Star Award and given the MEDAL OF VALOR twice. This is highest award given by the HAPD. This is a man who became an example for all to follow. But nobody would know what he did before he retired. Heroes don’t toot their own horn. That is why Brent Talmo is our “Unsung Hero!”
If you have an “Unsung Hero,” please send that story to The Foothills Paper: editor@ thefoothillspaper.com.