HANFORD — Today is Peace Officers Memorial Day, and although Kings County couldn’t hold its annual ceremony in public, local law enforcement leaders gathered on May 7 and held a private ceremony to honor fallen officers, including Lemoore Police Officer Jonathan Diaz.

Peace Officers Memorial Day, recognized on May 15, honors federal, state and local law enforcement personnel killed or disabled in the line of duty.

“We want the families of the fallen to know that you and the sacrifice of your officer are not forgotten,” Hanford Police Chief Parker Sever said. “We recognize and remember their selfless act and we share in your pain. We continue to honor your loved one’s memory.”

Sever thanked the men and women in uniform who work tirelessly every day to keep the community safe, regardless of the risks that they face. Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson said it’s during these times that everyone is reminded how precious life is.

“Peace officers are the last line of defense in our local communities and without them, we would be in harm’s way on a daily basis,” Robinson said.

Both men also thanked the Kings County community for its unwavering love and support throughout the years.

“Let us pray for an end of violence in our communities and against our law enforcement personnel, that these be the last names added to this memorial,” Sever said.

A monument located at the Kings County Government Center is inscribed with the names of law enforcement officers who served in Kings County and died in the line of duty. This year, the name of Officer Jonathan Diaz of the Lemoore Police Department was added to the monument.

Diaz was killed after intervening in a domestic violence altercation between family friends at a party. He was able to remove the victim from the situation and get her to safety before deciding to go back into the residence unarmed, even after hearing one gunshot come from within the home.

Diaz confronted the suspect, a struggle ensued and he was shot and killed. His end of watch was Nov. 2, 2019.

As the investigation progressed and Lemoore Police Chief Michael Kendall learned about what happened, he said he was not surprised by Diaz’s actions.

“This was Jonathan Diaz — habitually putting everyone else’s safety and security above his own,” Kendall said.

Kendall paid tribute to Diaz during the ceremony and the manner in which he lived his life.

Diaz was hired as a reserve officer with LPD in 2016, but was soon hired as a full-time officer after the department realized he possessed the attributes it looks for in young officers, Kendall said.

“Over the course of the next three years, Jonathan proved his commitment to public safety and to the city of Lemoore,” he said, adding Diaz received several letters of commendation from his supervisors and was voted the 2018 Officer of the Year.

As he progressed in his career, Kendall said Diaz developed a passion for investigations into criminal street gangs. While assigned to patrol, Diaz spent his time in between calls for service identifying gang members.

His hard work and dedication led Diaz to be assigned to the Kings County Major Crimes Task Force as a gang investigator.

“To say Jonathan was a proactive officer would be an understatement,” Kendall said. “He regularly led his shift in all categories of proactive patrol, from subject checks to traffic stops and overall arrests.”

The reason Diaz got into this line of work was simple.

“He did it for his community. He did it for his family and his friends. He did it for his sons, his daughter, his mother and his father. He did it to provide for and to set the example — which he did,” Kendall said.

Reached via email Thursday, Kendall added this about Diaz:

“Jonathan Diaz was a very well-liked officer within our department. We still grieve his loss and are reminded every day of the impact he had on each of us here at LPD. He had a sense of duty and compassion for the community which made him a well-rounded officer. Jonathan excelled as an officer and had recently been selected as a Field Training Officer (FTO), training newly hired officers who had just graduated the academy. This role in any department is a huge responsibility that impacts both the department as well as the careers of each new officer. Because of Jonathan’s hard work ethic he was assigned to the Major Crimes Task Force as an investigator. Again he quickly excelled in this role and was on his way to becoming a great investigator.

“He often spoke about setting a positive example for his brothers, sons and daughter. Having come from an impoverished upbringing he wanted to show his family that anything was possible if you worked hard enough. His family meant the world to Jonathan. There was never anything he wouldn’t do for them.”

The reporter can be reached at julissazavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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