EL CENTRO, Calif. – Calexico Police Dispatcher Veronica Valenzuela remembers taking the call when Officer Adrian Cordova fell in the line of duty.
“I couldn’t stop crying, but I had to do the job, get the medics and police and the help that we could out there,” Valenzuela said.
This Friday, Valenzuela along with the community remembered the 39 Imperial County officers who lost their lives on the job.
It’s part of an annual law enforcement memorial ceremony at El Centro’s Courthouse.
Calexico Police Chief Reggie Gomez said when one falls it hurts them all. He remembers Special Agent Enrique Camarena who also gave his life protecting others.
“I remember him as a young man growing in Calexico. I grew up around the corner from his family,” Gomez said.
Camarena wasn’t the only officer to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Former Calexico Police Chief Leonard Speer also tragically lost his life while on the job.
“He was assaulted by a person who disarmed him and shot him with his weapon,” Gomez said.
So the community gathered for a tradition to keep their memories alive.
“It’s very important because even though they’re gone they’re not forgotten,” Gomez said.
Chief Gomez says officers have a special bond that unites the team.
“Having in common the same profession, being misunderstood by the public, being criticized by the public, and questioned, sometimes maliciously, sometimes innocently, you develop a bond with fellow officers and you start thinking of each other as a tightknit family.”
Valenzuela says she honors the memory of her fallen officer in blue, Adrian Cordova, by remembering the best in him.
“His smile, his laughter, his character, his charisma,” Valenzuela said.