MODESTO -- The "Thin Blue Line" flag represents the line between personal and public safety that law enforcement officers often face.
With the flag now part of a memorial honoring Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Garner and Community Service Officer Raschel Johnson, neighbors like Robert Sergeant say, it’s the least they can do.
“Being out there to protect us and something like this happens, it’s a crusher,” Sergeant said.
In front of the sheriff’s office, Sergeant left a flower bouquet wrapped in blue ribbon among other bouquets and balloons. He said he knows what kind of sacrifices law enforcement officers often make.
“We try to do what we can for the officers because it’s a big loss. Big time loss,” Sergeant said.
In surveillance footage FOX40 obtained, Garner’s SUV is seen going very fast. Investigators said he somehow veered off Crows Landing Road then crashed on Saturday morning. The deputy and the CSO were on their way to a burglary call. Johnson would not have normally been in that cruiser, responding to a burglary call. But the mother of three was building a training program for other community service officers who would be working with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department in Modesto.
The loss has been heavy within the law enforcement community. Just six months ago, Deputy Dennis Wallace was killed while on duty in Fox Grove Park.
“Shock, disappointment, not again. Here we go again,” Sheriff Adam Christianson said when asked of his initial reaction to the news that Garner and Johnson had died.
Christianson said the news has been rough on his department, especially because there’s at least one scam already on the GoFundMe website, a scammer trying to profit from the community’s grief.
“Makes me angry so again, if you’re within my jurisdictional reach, I’m coming for you, and you’re going to end up in my jail,” Christianson said.
But Christianson said he’s seen so much more community support, especially when it comes to honoring the fallen.
Deputy Garner would not hesitate to put a smile on a child’s face, even allowing a girl to wear his helmet in one photo from the department’s Facebook page. Johnson, who often went above and beyond, was pictured with a Christmas tree last year. Deputies said she and others donated a Christmas tree to a family in need. Both will be remembered for their hard work and dedication as their co-workers continue to protect the community, despite the grief and heartbreak they are dealing with.
“People who are here working, affected by this tragedy, but yet they keep going,” Christianson said.
Deputy’s Garner’s funeral is set for next Tuesday. CSO Johnson’s is scheduled for next Wednesday. The sheriff said it may take months before we know what truly happened in this tragedy.