The Lodi Police Department Honor Guard on Wednesday paid its respects to one of its own who lost his life 20 years ago: Motor Officer Rick Cromwell.

Cromwell sustained fatal injuries on Dec. 9, 1998, when his motorcycle collided with a car while he was pursuing a speeding driver. He was the first officer in the department’s history to be killed in the line of duty.

“We started with an inspection at the police station, inspecting the officers who attended,” said Lt. Fernando Martinez, a member of the honor guard.

The officers then made their way to Cherokee Memorial where, after a short prayer and eulogy, the honor guard paid its respects to Cromwell and his family with a salute before giving each officer a moment to reflect privately.

“It’s a good day for all of our officers, especially our younger officers, to go to the gravesite of Officer Cromwell,” said Lodi Police Chief Tod Patterson.

The department honored not only Cromwell, Patterson said, but two members of the Partners Program who passed away as well.

“It’s a good reminder for our officers of someone making the ultimate sacrifice while employed with the Lodi Police Department,” Patterson said.

Following the ceremony in Lodi, the honor guard then made its way to the Stockton Police Department for a countywide memorial service, Martinez said, where Cromwell’s name was read along with other fallen officers.

The honor guard will honor Cromwell’s memory again this coming week, Martinez said, when eight of the 10 members travel to Washington, D.C. on Sunday for Police Week, which lasts from Sunday until Wednesday.

“We’ll be back on Thursday,” Martinez said.

A candlelight vigil will take place on Monday, Martinez said, and on Wednesday a ceremony will be held to honor the officers who lost their lives in 2018.

This will be the latest in a long line of honors for Martinez, who has been a member of the honor guard since 1997 and attended hundreds of funerals.

“It’s just a great honor to be able to go on Rick Cromwell’s 20th anniversary (of his passing), and to go to D.C. to the National Peace Officers’ Memorial,” Martinez said.

The Lodi Police Honor Guard attended Police Week once before, Patterson said, one year after Cromwell’s passing.

“This being the 20th year since then, we felt it was the proper time to go back and honor Rick and the other officers who made the ultimate sacrifice. We’re extremely honored to be able to go back there,” Patterson said. “Rick was, I would say, the ultimate family man, the ultimate officer and I think he was someone that had all of the characteristics that a young man should aspire to.”

Flights and accommodations for Police Week are paid for by donations. Anyone wishing to donate should email Lt. Fernando Martinez at fmartinez@lodi.gov.

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