Law Enforcement commemorates the lives and heroism of our many fallen officers each May. A week is dedicated to Fallen Officers nationally as National Police Week, and in San Mateo County in early May each year, our Law Enforcement agencies gather to acknowledge our county’s local officers who have died in the line of duty.
As of 2014, 28 Law Enforcement Officers have died in the line of duty in San Mateo County, dating back to the 1800’s. Each of those officers is represented at the Menorial each year by an officer from their local agency, who each bears a rose in honor of their fallen officer.
In 2013, San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer delivered a speech in memory of our County’s Fallen Officers. It is reproduced below.
San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer’s Speech at the 2013 San Mateo County Fallen Officers’ Memorial:
Redwood City – May 1st 2013 “In valor there is hope…” this quote by Publius Tacititus adorns the blue-gray marble walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. Stately bronzed lions guard the names of the more than 17,500 officers etched on the walls commemorating those who have been killed in the line of duty (dating back to 1792.) For the past ten years an average of 164 names are added to the wall each year during Law Enforcement Memorial week. The event will be marked next week by the attendance of families and comrades of the fallen officers. When a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty it impacts all of us. It remains the unspoken vow that we understand the ultimate price we might pay yet we do this work not to become heroes, but because we hope to truly make a difference. We understand we are that “last line of defense” between fear and safety; the standard bearers of a just and civil society. It is unfortunate that there is much that is dangerous on our streets.
It is a tragedy each and every time there is a senseless and brutal crime. All too often the victims are the young people and all within our communities suffer. Officers often place themselves in harm’s way to protect our community, and for the most part, these selfless acts go unnoticed. It has been of great solace to the law enforcement community that the community and its leaders have taken time to share in our collective grief.
During this week of remembrance and recommitment to our vows to lay down our lives in the protection of others, though, we search for answers to the anguished question of what could have prevented these tragedies and violence, and several questions have emerged. As we have seen in Boston, Newtown, VA Tech, and here on the streets of the Bay Area gunmen make decisions that they’d rather shoot it out with officers than return to prison. Questions remain but those questions are for another day for today is a day to grieve and provide a collective sea of protection and comfort to the families and colleagues left reflecting on the senseless deaths and the ultimate cost of being a guardian of public safety. However our law enforcement officers are resilient and more determined than even in our vows to protect and serve. We understand danger and do not flinch in the face of it; in fact we run to it as others flee. This is simply our job.
Our resolve is even stronger now as we come together to grieve, to pay our respects and then get back into our patrol cars and return to our communities to protect and serve. We honor the fallen with our commitment to continue to protect and serve our communities; we won’t rest until our streets are safe. We are the peace keepers who can, and do, make a difference daily. These brave Officers sacrificed their lives and safety to protect us all… not as martyrs, but as heroes who have defined, yet again, the face of true courage and service.
This tragedy mobilizes a community, and hopefully, as a result of this tragedy, the community and the Police Department forge a partnership to make their streets safer for all of us – only then can there be peace on our streets. One can only hope that this can be the legacy of these officers’ ultimate sacrifice. Indeed, in “Valor there is Hope” for us all.
The Following summary is reprinted from the SMPD Webpage on the history of San Mateo PD:
In Memoriam – Sergeant Gordon Joinville –
End Of Watch 5/23/68
On May 23, 1968, Sergeant Gordon R. Joinville was shot and killed by Zachery Ford Lilliard. He is the only San Mateo officer to have been killed in the line of duty. Sergeant Joinville was 34 years old and a 12-year police veteran at the time of his death. He left behind a wife, Margaret, and two small children
Sergeant Joinville was investigating the theft of a large quantity of a chemical used in the manufacture of LSD. His investigation led him to his ill-fated meeting with Lilliard at 5th & Claremont. During Sergeant Joinville’s encounter with Lilliard, there was a countywide alert because of an armed robbery, and radio traffic was very heavy. Sergeant Joinville asked Dispatch to run a computer check and was asked to “stand by.” That was Sergeant Joinville’s last radio transmission. Lilliard shot Sergeant Joinville twice and then fled the scene.
Sergeant Joinville had a piece of paper on his clipboard that had a license plate number written on it. An involved investigation led to the identification of Lilliard as the suspect. Lilliard was arrested the following day in San Francisco. While in custody, Lilliard tried to bribe a correctional officer into allowing him to escape. The deputy filed a report against Lilliard. Days later, Lilliard acquired a gun. He held a jailer at gunpoint while he stole his jail uniform. Lilliard managed to escape from custody. He was apprehended and charged with 1st degree murder of a police officer. Lilliard was convicted and sentenced to death; however, his death sentence was overturned by the courts. Lilliard is now serving a life term in the California State Prison system.
On October 5, 1968, the Joinville Swim Center was opened on Kehoe Avenue in Sergeant Joinville’s honor. He has been memorialized at the San Mateo County Hall of Justice, the Peace Officers Memorial in Sacramento, and the National Peace Officers Memorial in Washington D.C.