The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 26, 2013
Jerry Brown honors California Highway Patrol officer, others

Thumbnail image for 130926-MC_VALOR_01.jpgGov. Jerry Brown this morning recognized a California Highway Patrol officer for an act of bravery that likely saved a man's life last year at the risk of the officer's own well-being.

Officer Dane Norem was on patrol out of the CHP's Riverside office on Oct. 25 when he responded to a call about a man threatening to jump off the La Sierra overpass on Highway 91.

Norem arrived in time to see Javier Hernandez Rios, then 45, climbing the overpass fence. The officer grabbed Hernandez to keep him from jumping and was stabbed nine times -- including in the eye -- with a utility knife. Despite the attack, Norem held onto the man's leg long enough for help to arrive.

"It is without a doubt, his courage, dedication, and quick thinking are what helped save a man's life, even when his own life was in jeopardy," CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a press statement.

Hernandez, who was found to be under the influence of drugs, was arrested and charged with several crimes including the attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

Brown awarded Norem with the 2012 Governor's Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, the highest honor the state can bestow on its public safety employees.

The ceremony in the Governor's Council Room also recognized 13 other men for heroic acts, including 11 Modesto Police Department officers who risked their lives to retrieve two shooting victims as well as a San Diego police officer and San Diego sheriff's deputy who were involved in a shootout.

From the Modesto Police Department:
Sgt. Rick Applegate
Sgt. Patrick Kimes
Sgt. Scott Myers
Sgt. Ivan Valencia
Detective Eric Beffa
Officer Joseph Bottoms
Officer Jonathan Griffith
Officer Gary Guffey
Officer Frank Inacio
Officer Robert Reyna
Officer Richard Rodarte

From the San Diego Sheriff's Department
Dep. Michael Spears

From the San Diego Police Department
Officer Michael DeWitt

PHOTO: The Governor's Public Safety Medal of Valor. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo

December 10, 2012
State dedicating Sacramento freeway interchange to fallen employees

121210 State Engineer Memorial Exhange.jpgEarly next year, the state will officially name the junction of Interstate 5 and U.S. 50 in Sacramento to honor Caltrans employees killed in the line of duty,

Assembly Concurrent Resolution 100 lists the State Engineer Memorial Interchangeas one of 26 new highway designations that recall the distinguished service of groups and individuals who have passed away.

Ryan Endean, spokesman for Professional Engineers in Calfornia Government, expects an official naming ceremony in spring 2013.

Since 1924, some 178 California Department of Transportation employees have been killed on the job. The leading cause of death: errant drivers who strike road workers.

PHOTO: The Interstate 5 - State Route 50 interchange / courtesy Professional Engineers in California Government.

April 27, 2012
Ceremony honors fallen Caltrans workers

From Fresno's KSEE News: Caltrans employees killed in the line of duty were honored in a special ceremony Thursday morning.

(Caltrans has scheduled a similar ceremony at the State Capitol for May 9.)

July 26, 2011
California bucks national trends in law officers' deaths

RCB_20110502_MEMORIAL 0069.JPGCalifornia appears to be bucking two nationwide trends in deaths among law enforcement officers: a 14 percent rise across the country in the number of deaths from January through June and a spike in firearm-related deaths during the same period.

The preliminary data comes from the annual midyear report on officer fatalities from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which is available as a PDF here. So far this year, 98 officers have died across the country -- 12 more than in the first half of 2010. The fund's chairman Craig Floyd told USA Today that budget cuts are "putting communities at risk and officers at risk."

But in California, just four officers died between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year. That's down during the same period from nine in 2010 and six in 2009.

The statewide totals for those years: In 2010, 11 officers died in the line of duty; seven died in 2009.

June 28, 2010
CHP officer killed near Paso Robles

A CHP officer died Sunday night from injuries he suffered after a car hit his patrol vehicle, which in turn struck him near Paso Robles.

Officer Brett Oswald, 47, was a 21-year veteran of the CHP, according to this report by The Tribune of San Luis Obispo.

Oswald's death marks the fifth time a patrol officer has died in the line of duty since May and the second CHP death in one day. We noted the other fallen officers in this post.

About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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