The deaths of Santa Cruz Police Department officers Sgt. Loren “Butch” Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were remembered Thursday, March 7, as their funeral procession headed through Scotts Valley on Highway 17 toward San Jose.
The officers were killed in the line of duty in Santa Cruz on Feb. 26 while investigating an alleged sexual assault case.
Scotts Valley Police Department had two police cars and three motorcycle officers in the procession, which left Santa Cruz for a memorial service at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
The procession included hundreds of law enforcement vehicles and closed Highway 17 for about 10 minutes. Nearby streets, including the overpass at Granite Creek Road in Scotts Valley, were lined with people holding American flags.
John Weiss, Scotts Valley’s police chief, said the tragedy made his officers reflect and be mindful of their fellow officers’ safety.
“If there’s any shred of silver lining for hope that came out of this tragedy, it is this: the community support and good will that we have seen has been immense,” Weiss said.
Weiss said Scotts Valley officers who attended the ceremony wore their best blue uniforms to pay their respects.
Weiss said the crowds that lined the overpasses in Scotts Valley and city streets were heartening.
“It reminds us that while police officers sometimes deal with evil, it’s the community that reminds us why we are in this profession,” he said.
Baymonte Christian School’s student council joined hundreds of people on the Granite Creek overpass to be among those showing their support. They carried 14 lettered posters to spell out “honor & remember.”
“In hopeless situations like this, in such tragedies, it’s hard to think that you can make a difference, or that you can help in any way, because we’re just middle-schoolers,” said Alyse Handley, the Baymonte Christian School student council outreach officer. “It just really makes me happy that we can show them that we care and show them our appreciation just by little signs, and that we can make an impression on this huge tragedy.”
“We painted the signs and put them all together, and then got to come out and honor them,” said Debbie Siemsen, advisor of Baymonte’s student council.
Baymonte’s Principal Steve Patterson came up with the idea for the sign in order to commemorate the officers.
“It was his inspiration to honor the victims,” said Debbie Siemsen, advisor of Baymonte’s student council, “and from there student council officers came together.”
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