Friends and family mourn the loss of SCV native, LAPD deputy chief 

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Friends and family are mourning the loss of Matthew Blake — a Santa Clarita Valley native who quickly shot up the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department.  

Those who knew him well said he was always a leader. Blake died on June 1 at the age of 57.  

“He was always the captain of whatever we were doing or the leader of whatever we were doing … He was just a natural leader. Everybody listened to what Matt said,” said childhood friend Shanna Valenzuela.  

Valenzuela and her family grew up next door to the Blake family in a close-knit neighborhood on Langside Avenue. Valenzuela said this group was always there for each other, even in times of hardship.  

“I saw him when his mom passed, and then he came when my dad passed,” said Valenzuela. “We were always there for each other … We have each other’s back.” 

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Another part of this close group was Tim Sgrignoli, who also grew up next door to Blake. Sgrignoli shared a story about the Saugus High School graduate that he wanted to preserve for posterity.  

Apparently Blake and a close friend got into a heated argument one day. But instead of getting into a fistfight about it, they went their separate ways. But, Blake was still pretty upset about the confrontation — to the point he drew the face of a pig on a T-shirt, hung it up on his dad’s LAPD punching bag and then wrote the friend’s name over it.  

Eventually the two made up, but Blake never removed the image with his friend’s name imprinted on it. When the friend came over for a barbecue some time later, he discovered it — in Blake’s presence.  

“(Blake) turned like 15 shades of red because he knew that he forgot to take the T-shirt down,” said Sgrignoli.   

Sgrignoli, Valenzuela and Blake drifted apart once he’d joined the police department and especially so as he quickly climbed the ranks.  

At the request of his family, the disease Blake fought, and ultimately died from, is being withheld. It was a condition he valiantly fought against, according to those close to him.  

Blake retired early from the Los Angeles Police Department in an effort to confront the challenges posed by his health. He later relocated with his family to Idaho.  

Blake was a second-generation LAPD officer born into a family with a tradition of policing.  Following in his father’s footsteps, Blake joined the department in 1987, at a time when his father had already spent two decades as a veteran of the force.  

One of Blake’s notable achievements came when he served as the captain of the LAPD’s Olympic Division, located in the heart of Koreatown in Los Angeles.  

Under his leadership, the division earned acclaim for its performance in crime reduction. In 2009, the Olympic Division led the entire department in overall crime reduction, followed by significant decreases in violent crime in the subsequent year.  

Blake’s commitment to strategic deployment and data-driven crime-fighting strategies was credited with playing a pivotal role in achieving these remarkable results. 

In a 2011 L.A. Times article, Blake expressed his profound dedication to rebuilding the trust between the LAPD and the community it served. Reflecting on the aftermath of the 1992 riots and the resulting alienation, Blake wanted to ensure that something like that would never occur again.  

A memorial service for Blake is scheduled to be held 2 p.m. Friday, June 16, at Meridian First Baptist Church, 428 W. Pine Ave. in Meridian, Idaho.

In 2017, the community room of the LAPD’s Olympic station was named in Blake’s honor. Charlie Beck, then the chief of the LAPD, tweeted at the time: “Deputy Chief Matt Blake gave everything he had to our city. Through today’s community room dedication, @LAPDOlympic will always be his home.” 

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