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Touching Tribute to a Slain Officer

January 08, 1994

* I have been a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff for over 17 years. On Dec. 7, I attended the funeral of Oxnard Police Officer James O'Brien. It was a sad day, the kind I have experienced far too often bidding farewell to other slain police officers. The tributes paid to him by his fellow officers showed what a great policeman he was and the compassionate and caring father he lived to be.

But I would also like to salute the caring citizens of Ventura County. All along the procession route from the church to the cemetery was something that truly touched me. I had never seen anything like it in Los Angeles County.

Several hundred citizens had taken time out of their day to stand at intersections and freeway overpasses to salute Officer O'Brien. Some waved the American flag, and others held homemade signs acknowledging his contribution to the city of Oxnard and the county of Ventura. Caltrans employees and various utility company workers stood by with their hands on their hearts as we went by. Parents came with their children to wave in support.

Police officers from all over the State of California witnessed this support and surely must realize how truly lucky all of Ventura County Law Enforcement are to have these citizens. I salute them.

PHIL STRENKOWSKI

Agoura

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