February 22, 2016

Remembering Our Fallen Heroes

Remembering Our Fallen Heroes
By Kevin Vogel, Chief of Police

This Friday marks the third anniversary of the tragic and senseless deaths of our heroes, Sergeant Loran “Butch” Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler.   On Friday afternoon at 3:23 p.m., members of the Santa Cruz Police Department will gather at the Baker-Butler Memorial Garden in the front courtyard of the police department for a quiet ceremony to honor and remember our fallen friends and heroes.  3:23 p.m. marks the time on February 26, 2013 that Butch and Beth gave everything they had for this community.  We will gather to remember a father, a husband, a mentor and a friend.  We will gather to remember a mother, a partner and an inspiration to all of us.   Remembering who they were, what made them so special, why we admired them, why we loved them and why we were proud to serve next to them will make certain they never leave our hearts.

We remember them every day as we gaze at the beautiful Baker-Butler Memorial Garden that was dedicated to their memory on the first anniversary in 2014.  Every member of the Santa Cruz Police Department who worked by their side wears a memorial pin inscribed with Butch and Beth’s badge numbers as a perpetual reminder of the ultimate sacrifice they made when they gave their lives for our community.  

Last year, former Mayor Don Lane brought forth a proposal in which our City Council unanimously proclaimed February 26th as “Baker-Butler Memorial Day” in the City of Santa Cruz where the flags will be lowered in perpetuity at all City facilities.   As I mentioned when I delivered the eulogy for Butch and Beth on March 7, 2013, Elizabeth loved the delicious Morning Buns at Kelly’s French Bakery.  Every single Wednesday morning, Kelly and Mark Sanchez, owners of Kelly’s Bakery, have ensured a delivery of 100 Morning Buns to the police department.  The members of the Santa Cruz Police Department have affectionately named those Morning Buns “Butler Buns.”  We are grateful to everyone in our community who has kept the spirit of Butch and Beth alive in all of our hearts.

We will never forget the outpouring of support we felt from this community and communities beyond following that fateful and tragic day nearly three years ago.   It is very difficult, if not impossible to find words to adequately describe the overwhelming feelings that our Santa Cruz Police Department family experienced as those of us who traveled in the memorial procession navigated our way from the beach area in Santa Cruz to the memorial service in San Jose.  The streets of Santa Cruz and the overpasses on Highway 17 were lined with members of our community and beyond expressing their love, honor and respect for Butch and Beth.  It was a showing of love and support from our community that we have never experienced before.  I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it again.  Thank you Santa Cruz!

For those of us who knew Butch and Beth, not a day goes by when we do not reach deep into our hearts and find a personal memory of them that brings a smile to our faces.  Please join us in honoring them on Baker-Butler Memorial Day.  We love them both dearly and we will miss them forever.