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As a matter of introduction and background, my name is Jim Duffy. You may know me as the president of the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of San Diego County or perhaps from over a quarter century of law enforcement service to the people of this county. Hopefully if it was the latter, it was a good thing for you.
I was born and raised here in San Diego County and have been in or around law enforcement for my entire life it seems. It would be safe to say that my point of view is pretty much from that side of the table.
At the top of my mind right now, are the funeral services for Oceanside Police Officer Dan Bessant. Not even a week ago, we all honored him at his funeral for making the ultimate sacrifice in protecting us. He was shot and killed in the line of duty in a completely senseless act. He pretty much stepped out of his patrol car and was shot by a coward from a distance completely uninvolved to what he was doing, simply because he was wearing a police uniform. That could have been any of us in uniform to the shooter. And as fate has all too often allowed, the soft body armor Bessant was wearing played no part.
I did not know him personally, but the stories of his life that were told at the service were of a great man indeed and of a young husband and new father. Looking at all the other young men and women police officers, deputy sheriffs and highway patrol officers seated attentively in our dress uniforms at the service, you can’t help but notice and think that Bessant’s life was so much like any one of theirs, and their loss would too be grieved just as deeply as his for all the same reasons.
The funeral for a line of duty death is a very moving experience for anyone who has ever seen or been in one. In 2006, there were eleven line of duty deaths of law enforcement officers in California. A Ventura County deputy sheriff put together this short but moving video clip that I was emailed today. Here is the link that you can watch on YouTube. It’s an honor for me to serve on the Board of Directors of the California Peace Officers Memorial Foundation. On their website, you can read more about those eleven heroes in California or the more than 1,300 others that have given their life in the line of duty since California became a state.