A few hundred community members gathered along Elk Grove Boulevard during the afternoon of June 27 to honor the late Sacramento Police Officer Tara O’Sullivan.
Many of them waited for over an hour for the funeral procession to return her to the Herberger Family Elk Grove Funeral Chapel in Old Town.
Four helicopters and dozens of law enforcement vehicles from as far as Portland, Ore. traveled in the procession that arrived from the memorial service held in Roseville. They drove under a giant American flag that hanged from two Cosumnes Fire truck ladders outside Joseph Kerr Middle School.
“However devastating this event may be, it is important that our community came together to support and to acknowledge her sacrifice,” Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly told the Citizen.
Terri Busby watched the Sacramento Police Honor Guard ceremonially remove O’Sullivan’s casket from a hearse and take her into the funeral home. A few dozen other residents stood with Busby across the street from the ceremony.
“I’m proud to be from Elk Grove,” Busby said. “The community came together and showed their support for the officers.”
O’Sullivan was fatally shot on June 19 while she was helping a woman in a domestic dispute move her belongings out of a north Sacramento home. She was the first Sacramento police officer in 20 years to die in the line of duty.
After her death, O’Sullivan was transported to the Herberger funeral home on June 21 and she was held there until her June 27 memorial.
The memorial service in Roseville was broadcast live on television and the Internet. O’Sullivan joined the police force soon after graduating from the Sacramento Police Academy last year.
“Tara made a real difference in countless lives in just a short amount of time,” Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said at the memorial.
The End of Watch Fund, a local nonprofit operated by Elk Grove police officers, prepared more than 2,000 snack packs for the memorial service. Members also passed out Thin Blue Line flags to onlookers during O’Sullivan’s return to the funeral home in Elk Grove.
“A lot of people do want to participate, they want to be here,” said Natalie Galena, an End of Watch Fund volunteer. “It’s a really sad thing that happened, but a lot of people came together to support (O’Sullivan) and what she did.”
Members of Elk Grove’s American Legion Post 233 also handed out Thin Blue Line flags outside the Smart and Final supermarket’s parking lot.
“The woman deserves all of the respect we can give her, she was a first responder who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Larry Sahota of Post 233.
Fellow American Legion member Betty Hall passed out flags on the sidewalk. She said that the community support reminded her of when Elk Grove honored her son, Bryan E. Hall who was returned home after he was killed in Iraq 10 years ago.
“I know, as the mother of a fallen hero, that the parents and family members were taken back by the response of the community,” Betty said.
Elk Grove City Manager Jason Behrmann visited the Post 233 while they awaited the procession.
“We’re fortunate that our community really does support the men and women in blue all the time, not just today,” he said.
Elk Grove Police Chief Bryan Noblett praised the Elk Grove community for their support.
“Words cannot adequately express how proud I am of Elk Grove and how thankful we are for your support,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Elk Grove school board adjourned their June 25 meeting in memory of O’Sullivan. Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen said that she visited the funeral home to pay her respects to the officer. She noted the blue ribbons that community members tied around trees and poles in respect of O’Sullivan.
“I’m proud of our community for lining Elk Grove Boulevard with blue ribbons in her honor,” Singh-Allen said.
Community lines EG
Boulevard with blue
ribbons for O’Sullivan
Community members on June 25 hung blue ribbons and bows on poles, trees, fire hydrants and other objects along Elk Grove Boulevard in preparation for O’Sullivan’s June 27 procession.
Rebecca Fuentes, who has family members in law enforcement, held back tears while taking a break from hanging ribbons on a tree in front of the fire department on Elk Grove Boulevard.
“It just fulfills your heart, but it’s just so heart-wrenching at the same time,” she said. “I worry every day.”
Patty Fitch, who hung ribbons at the same site, said it was important to her to participate, especially since she has family members who are involved in police work.
“It’s bittersweet, but my heart is so full for the family,” she said. “I can’t even imagine. It’s my worst nightmare, but it is their nightmare. They’re living that.”
Fitch, who was joined by her husband, Fred, and Fuentes, said she appreciated the people who honked their car horns as they drove by.
Krysta Steele-Brooks commented on the many people who were involved in hanging ribbons.
“We’re pretty much putting them from Highway 99 and Elk Grove-Florin (Road) to the Herberger funeral chapel, so everybody is just kind of making their way down (the boulevard),” she said. “I started at the Herberger chapel. There’s been another group that has kind of come (the opposite) way.
“For me, personally, I have a brother going through the (Sacramento) sheriff’s academy, and I know it has impacted them pretty hard. I also wanted to take (her daughter, Maycie, and her son, Cash), because I think it’s important for them to see and be a part of their community and support their officers.”
Carole Peak, a mother of three people in law enforcement and a volunteer for the Elk Grove police officers’ nonprofit End of Watch Fund, also discussed the blue ribbons.
“We do it up right,” she said. “We love our officers and we love our law enforcement, and I think that’s what our town emulates.”
After viewing the finished display of blue ribbons and bows, Elk Grove Vice Mayor Pat Hume commented on the effort.
“It just kind of popped up overnight,” he said. “They were looking for the city to fly the (Thin) Blue Line flags, and we weren’t able to accommodate that for myriad reasons. So, the community just came out and said, ‘We’re going to start tying blue ribbons and show our own support,’ which I think is more heartfelt and speaks more to the value of Elk Grove as a community. I hope it’s appreciated by the folks that are paying their respects to the fallen officer.”