While the COVID-19 pandemic halted plans for a relay run, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies still gathered Thursday at Jake Kuredjian Park in Stevenson Ranch to honor fallen officers with a Memorial Torch Run.
Every year, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department deputies perform the run as a way to keep alive the memory of law enforcement officials who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, whether they serve as police officer, highway patrol or deputies, said Lt. Rod Loughridge of the SCV Sheriff’s Station, who was one of dozens of deputies in attendance.
Traditionally, the journey starts at the southern end of Los Angeles County and works its way to the North County region, with SCV deputies often handing the torch to Antelope Valley deputies as the final leg, according to Deputy Natalie Arriaga, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station.
“It’s to honor the memory of those brave and dedicated individuals who, as law enforcement officers, sacrificed their lives, in the course of their duties to the citizens of L.A. County,” Loughridge said, “not only that, but we’re talking nationwide, as well.”
Normally there also would be a ceremony involved in the run to support the families, friends and colleagues of the fallen officers, but those plans were put on hold this year due to safety precautions.
The run traditionally involved 56 legs of the relay that goes 330 miles throughout the county, with each leg about 5-10 miles in length.
This year’s run, which began in 1975, started at Jake Kuredjian Park and ended at the Sheriff’s Station for about a 5-mile route.
Kuredjian was a 17-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department who was assigned to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station in 1995.
On the morning of his death, he responded to reports of “shots fired” in Stevenson Ranch, where agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were serving a search warrant to a man for impersonating a police officer and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.
After several hours and hundreds of shots fired by the suspect, officers attempted to gain entry through a window, causing the man to open fire with an automatic rifle, fatally shooting Kuredjian.