We have lost three officers in the line of duty here at the Palo Alto Police Department.
This page provides information on each of them, and also describes a few of the small tributes we've made to honor their lives.
On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 53 hours. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice. For more information, visit the Officer Down Memorial Page.
We will #NeverForget.
Our Fallen Officers: Officers Cole, Clifton, and Brassinga
Reserve Officer Lester Cole was laying flares at an accident scene when he was struck and killed by the driver of an automobile. The driver reported he never saw the officer.
Officer Gene Clifton died as a result of a gunshot wound received on October 1, 1971. Officer Clifton was fatally wounded during a joint operation with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Palo Alto Police Department. A team of officers were attempting to execute a search warrant at a residence. The officers were already inside the residence when a suspect fired shots at the officers and ran into a bedroom. Officer Clifton was standing outside the bedroom when the suspect continued shooting, and a bullet went through the wall and struck him in the abdomen.
Reserve Officer Theodore Brassinga was accidentally shot and killed during a multi-agency training exercise aboard an Amtrak train for the 1994 World Cup Soccer tournament. The officers in the exercise were supposed to have unloaded weapons.
Officer Brassinga had served with the agency for 1 year. He was survived by his wife and son.
Memorial Grove: A Living Tribute to Our Fallen Officers
On National Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15, 2014, the City of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Police Department unveiled "Memorial Grove" at Cogswell Plaza in downtown Palo Alto. Located at the corner of Ramona Street and Lytton Avenue, Memorial Grove is a stand of three massive Coast Redwood trees designated to honor Officers Cole, Clifton, and Brassinga. A permanent plaque recognizing their sacrifices is mounted nearby. Memorial Grove is located nearby our original police station at 450 Bryant Street.
New Palo Alto Streets Named After Our Fallen Officers
On June 24, 2013, the Palo Alto City Council voted to name three new streets in town after Officers Cole, Clifton, and Brassinga. After the vote, Chief Dennis Burns said, "Naming these streets after our fallen officers is an acknowledgement of their service and sacrifice. I think it is only fitting that all three of these streets are in close proximity to each other."
The three streets are located off of Monroe Drive, which runs off of the 4300 block of El Camino Real:
Police Department Conference Rooms Named After Our Fallen Officers
In 2015, we named each of the three conference rooms in the police station after one of our fallen officers. Each conference room has a plaque on the wall commemorating the officer. Officer Clifton's plaque (pictured below) hangs in the Staff Conference Room. Officer Brassinga's plaque hangs in the Investigative Services Division Conference Room, and Officer Cole's plaque hangs in the Patrol Briefing Room.