June 24, 2020
Mario A. Guerra, left, and Officer Lopez.
In the past several weeks since the tragic killing of George Floyd we have heard a lot about police reforms and defunding police departments. Some changes have been needed throughout the country and hopefully are being addressed.
Which has made me reflect on our own Downey Police Department and how they have served us. It was especially pertinent last Friday as I patrolled the streets with one of our new young officers. I wanted to share first hand from my perspective about our Downey Police Department.
I have been a Chaplain for the Downey Police Department for the past 18 years. I am proud to be their Chaplain, proud of what they do and the people I know them to be.
My views and perception come from a unique place; from being with them, seeing them regularly and knowing what is in their hearts. I have been here through five different police chiefs and have seen their leadership and the benefits we enjoy as a community. As a resident, I feel safer because of them.
I have celebrated many joyous occasions with our officers (I have met their families, married several of them, baptized many of their kids and enjoyed some great moments together, both personally and professionally).
Unfortunately, we have also been together for many tragedies too. From suicides, to homicides to terrible domestic cases. I have been with officers in the middle of the night when we had to notify a family of the passing of their loved one. The officers’ professionalism at these times is paramount, but just as important is the human interaction and decency they offer.
I have seen firsthand their compassion, empathy, love, pain, sympathy, service and duty to our community by a department that has always cared.
Our residents know it and our officers feel it. Our city is better and safer because of their efforts and they have earned the goodwill we afford them. We ask for perfection of them in dealing with so many tough issues, from mental health to criminal activity to drug abuse and homelessness.
They are made up of every race, color and gender. They are moms and dads, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and family to many.
We saw how our community rallied around them after the murder of Marine and fellow Officer Ricky Galvez. We all felt that pain and our DPD remembers every day.
Our Downey Police Department is special to us and have shown us that they are here for us. They have been doing community policing for many years and they have earned our trust. They have earned the credibility and respect of our city and residents.
Because we have our own Downey Police Department, we have also been able to always be on cutting edge technology and updating our training. Our Downey city leaders have always made our public safety a priority and it shows.
They are always out in our city and have been very transparent in everything they do (Coffee with a Cop, Neighborhood Watch Groups, school resource officers, National Night Out, Street Faire, Christmas Parade, Citizens Academy, food distribution, kids toys give away, mental health professionals, K9 Units and much more).
I am so proud of who and what they are and represent. Our culture is a positive one and we are a better community because of that. We are safer because of you and you are such a big part of why Downey is such a special place. Thank you Downey PD for all you do. We appreciate you very much.
Mario A. Guerra is a chaplain of the Downey Police Department, former mayor of Downey and current Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army. He can be reached at www.marioaguerra.com