SACRAMENTO -- A group of 36 brand new Sacramento police officers pledged themselves to serve and protect their city one day after a young woman who took the same oath just six months before was killed.
Officer Tara O'Sullivan was shot in a hail of gunfire while working a call on Redwood Avenue during her training period. She was just 26 years old.
"Her tragic death it just gives me more motivation to go out there and protect the community and help save lives one day at a time,” said new Sacramento Police Officer Berlinda Cato. “And if that means that I get hurt doing it then that's a sacrifice I’m willing to take."
"We can't deny that fact that we're scared,” said Sacramento Police Academy graduate Officer Thom Panen. “This is a scary job and what we're going to be doing is ... is dangerous. And being able to conquer that and being able to move past that and push past that, that's probably one of the most important things we can do as police officers."
The risk of the role of protecting others was heavy on the minds of Thursday’s class of recruits as they prepared to step out onto the streets of Sacramento just as O'Sullivan did.
Bullets fired by the high-powered rifle of suspected gunman Adel Sambrano Ramos kept crews from rescuing the 26-year-old officer for 40 minutes after she was shot.
Their ceremony was dedicated to her and her sacrifice. They drew on the strength and courage of Officer O’Sullivan to begin their careers, as well as the veteran leadership of their chief.
"She chose to stand in the gap between evil, between what tries to tear apart the fabric of what we call community. She chose to be the difference," said Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn. "I know society would break down without the police officers. I know that we must all come together to make a better tomorrow."