American flags rustle gently in the breeze at a roadside memorial on Meiss Road in rural Sloughhouse, once the tragic scene of an “officer down.”
Retired Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Don Judd takes a moment to honor a fellow officer, Deputy Jeffrey Mitchell, at a memorial along the desolate roadway where Mitchell was shot to death with his own weapon while conducting a traffic stop on a white Chevrolet van in the early hours of Oct. 27, 2006. The investigation remains open and detectives are still seeking information about the case.
As members of the Bruce Verhoeven Foundation, Judd and others personally deliver floral arrangements to Mitchell’s memorial and the grave sites of 17 other local sheriff’s deputies killed in the line of duty since 1850, on the anniversary of their deaths.
Established in 1975 as the Widows and Orphans fund, the foundation provides financial assistance to local members of law enforcement and their families in crisis because of illness, death or other catastrophe.
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Judd says it’s a good feeling knowing the flowers will be there for the families when they show up. “Whether you knew the guy or not, they’re still part of your family,” he said. “They gave it all for the job.”
– LEZLIE STERLING
To learn more about the Bruce Verhoeven Foundation, go to www.verhoevenfoundation.org