Roger Gitlin | Deputy David March, End of Watch

SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
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L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy David William March, End Of Watch, April 29, 2002

Saugus native son David March would have just turned 52 and nearing retirement had he not been murdered April 29, 2002.. 

It’s been 19 years since that tragic day in Irwindale when Dave met the face of evil that fateful spring morning and was gunned down by a three-times-deported, twice-convicted illegal alien drug dealer, who he pulled over on a “routine” traffic stop on Aarow Highway in the San Gabriel Valley. 

The assassin, who vowed to kill a cop that day, cowardly fled to Mexico where he hid out in the open while Mexico and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley squabbled over the death penalty. Four and a half years passed before U.S. marshals along with Mexican police arrested this suspect, whose name I vowed never to utter. He pleaded guilty to second degree murder and sits in a prison cell on a life without parole sentence. May he never see, smell, taste or experience freedom for the rest of his natural life.

As the years slowly ebb by, I am reminded how precious life is and how difficult, if not impossible, the job is for those who work in law enforcement. Those who wear the badge and take the oath to serve the public have my deepest love and highest admiration and respect. 

Deputy March was just such an individual whose mettle and character were stellar. Dave made the ultimate sacrifice so folks like us could enjoy our lives.

Almost two decades later, law enforcement is under siege.

Recruiting top-quality law men is more than challenging. Sadly, standards for hiring the best of the best have declined and we the public will pay dearly for this dynamic

I wonder aloud how Dave would view some of our public who revile those who enforce the law. It is indeed an upside-down world how a loud, obnoxious minority of malcontents can spew the poison of cop hating. I can only imagine those who hate law enforcement might not embrace the likes of Deputy David William March.

No comment!

Santa Clarita councilman emeritus and retired L.A. Police officer Bob Kellar shared his thoughts on the anniversary of Dave’s passing: “ I considered Dave a great friend and law enforcement officer and I was honored to have helped him become a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff.”

You were a great teacher and mentor, Councilman Kellar.

Similarly, I met Dave in 1995 at his home in Sand Canyon while he was still in the academy. One could not be more impressed with this tall, handsome man. He was special and he exuded steel character and a lofty moral standard for which we all should aspire. At any age, Dave March was someone to look up to and emulate. I did, or tried to.

Deputy David March.

After Dave’s murder, I changed, I believe for the better. Illegal aliens were entering the country and many were here not to embrace America but to destroy it. Many would stand on Santa Clarita corners seeking day work, and those who hired these people paid no taxes and below minimum wage. Many of these businesses, including fast food franchises, used fraudulent Social Security numbers to cheat the system. I was and remain outraged by our government, federal, state, county and city, turning a blind eye and deaf ear to these crimes. 

I formed a Minuteman chapter and took my case to our very own city of Santa Clarita council. Save Councilman Kellar, the City Council was deaf, dumb and blind in addressing the problems associated with folks who enter the United States illegally. Two councilors who currently still sit in office told me, back then, one crisscrossing her arms, exclaiming there was nothing they could do, deflecting my scorn for her lack of concern and advising me to seek redress from then-Rep. Buck McKeon. I told them they both need to resign. All politics is local.

Sadly, not much has changed since Dave’s murder. Our borders are as porous as President Joe Biden’s pathetic COVID-19 fishnet mask.

To the hundreds of thousands of families across the United who have suffered loss of loved ones, victims of rape, drunk driving, and felony assault, as well as scores of property crimes with no liability associated, my heart goes out to you all. I cannot imagine your pain.

Dave’s memory will be honored at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning, April 29, for an End of Watch ceremony by the Temple City office of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. A two-deputy guard will pay homage to Deputy March for 24 consecutive hours at the site of his assassination on Live Oak Boulevard, just east of Myrtle Avenue. Directions: 210 Freeway, to 605 South, off at Arrow Highway, which becomes Live Oak Boulevard, in Irwindale. The site is 300 yards east of Myrtle Ave.

David once said, “I will always be painfully honest and work as hard as I can and hopefully make a difference in people’s lives.” Those words became the LASD creed. Deputy March, you have made a huge difference in my life and so many others, and for that I am eternally grateful. You live within me, today.

Roger Gitlin is a Crescent City resident and retired member of the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors.

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