HANFORD — Twenty years ago, Kings County Sheriff’s deputy Allen Sharra was responding to a call for assistance with an Explorer ride along when he suddenly came upon an unmarked sharp turn. His patrol car flew off a dirt road and slammed into an irrigation canal embankment near Lemoore.
Sharra died on impact.
The 15-year-old Explorer, who had flown through the windshield and suffered two broken ankles, was able to crawl back to the car and radio for help. He fully recovered.
Sharra was one of the six Kings County law enforcement personnel, along with another 13 law enforcement personnel from across the state that was honored Wednesday morning during the Kings County Peace Officers’ Memorial ceremony.
Starting as an idea in the early 1960s, when Congress asked the U.S president to designate May 15 as a day to honor law enforcement officers killed or injured in the line of duty, Peace Officers Memorial Day recognizes the federal, state and local law enforcement personnel who voluntarily wear a uniform and badge and provide safety to others.
Peace Officers’ Memorial ceremonies have been held throughout the state this week.
This year’s ceremony, held at the Kings County Government Center, was hosted by the Kings County Probation Department.
“We want the families of the fallen to know that you are not forgotten,” said Kelly Zuniga, chief of the Kings County Probation Department. “We recognize their sacrifice and share your pain. We will continue to honor your loved one’s memory.”
Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson gave a remembrance speech about Sharra.
He said Sharra joined the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school in 1986, where he eventually ended up being stationed at Naval Air Station, Lemoore.
After his time in the service, Sharra attended West Hills College, where he majored in administration of justice and law enforcement. It was also there where he met his wife, Gina.
He began his law enforcement career in 1993 as a reserve officer in Huron. He later joined the Kings County Sheriff’s Office in April 1999, where he worked patrol in the Hanford/Lemoore areas.
Robinson said Sharra was excited to go to work every day and was enthusiastic about serving the people of the community. He said Sharra would volunteer for anything that would keep him in the uniform just a little bit longer.
Sharra’s End of Watch on Dec. 27, 1999, was the second death in 125-year history of the Kings County Sheriff’s Office, Robinson said.
In time for the 20-year anniversary of Sharra’s death this upcoming December, Robinson said his office, Gina and Deputy Sheriff’s Association President Nate Ferrier worked with Assemblymember Rudy Salas to introduce assembly resolution 38.
The resolution will create the Allen T. Sharra memorial highway on state Route 41, south of Lemoore in the area where his line of duty death occurred. Robinson said there will be a dedication later this year.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker was Kings County Superior Court Judge Robert Shane Burns.
Burns has worked in Kings County for 25 years. He joined the Kings County District Attorney’s office in the early 1990s, where he prosecuted thousands of cases before becoming a judge.
“In my opinion, you will not find a finer law enforcement community than you have here in Kings County,” Burns said. “You should all be very proud. They do an outstanding job.”
Burns said what defines officers is not what they do, but who they are. He said when he thinks about law enforcement, the words that come to mind are “character, kindness, integrity, courage, selflessness” and the word “hero.”
He said what sets law enforcement officers apart is their dedication to the community, placing others above themselves, and their willingness to be buffer between law-abiding citizens and those that wish to do harm, knowing that they will experience violence to protect community and may have to venture into chaos and the unknown.
Burns said it is important to acknowledge the daily sacrifices that every law enforcement officer makes in the line of duty, like the recitals, plays, games, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays that they have to miss because of their jobs.
“When I think of the loss of life, injuries and personal sacrifices that every officer makes — I think that’s why the word that, to me, sums up a police officer most accurately is ‘selfless’,” he said.
Burns became emotional while talking about law enforcement officers who have died, and he encouraged people to never forget what these officers sacrificed.
“In this community, you serve a community that is thankful for your service, that is proud for your dedication and that feels blessed to have you here every day,” Burns said.
There is a monument at the Kings County Government Center that is inscribed with the names of law enforcement officers who served in Kings County and died in the line of duty.
“May we never inscribe another name,” Zuniga said.