San Jose police hold first virtual memorial for fallen officers

On Wednesday, the San Jose Police department honored its fallen officers in a virtual ceremony. It’s the first time in the department’s history, the service was held this way due to the pandemic.

Every first Wednesday in May around National Police Week, San Jose Police come together to honor its officers who died over the years protecting the community. This year, the service went on as planned but different.

“For the first time this memorial service is absent the fallen officers’ families, community and parade of department members who come to pay respects for the ultimate sacrifices made,” said San Jose Police Dep. Chief David Tindall.

Now in its 26th year, the pandemic is preventing the officers and the community from coming together but COVID-19 is not preventing them from remembering. The service was taped last week. The video was edited and shared on Wednesday.

Beginning with a prayer, then the ringing of the bells, there was a salute to every San Jose officer who died. Since 1849, the department lost 13 officers. The last death was Officer Michael Katherman in 2016.

There was also a moment of silence and speeches. The police chief spoke of sacrifice and pride.

“Please know this, your husband, your son, your brother, dad died a hero,” said San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia.

It ended with the playing of “Taps.”

Katherine Decker lost her son Michael Johnson in 2015. He was killed responding to a call of a mentally-disturbed man with a firearm. She appreciated the time and thought put into the video.

“I know I will never forget my son,” said Decker. “I feel really honored and blessed they will never forget my son either.”

Even under extraordinary times, the memories of the fallen officers remain strong.

“It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived,” said Sgt. Paul Kelly of San Jose Police.