The memorial at HP Pavilion for slain Santa Cruz officers Sgt Loran “Butch” Baker and Det. Elizabeth Butler was packed with dignitaries, family, friends and 2,000 fellow police colleagues that took the time and effort to attend a somber send-off to two of its own. Around 8000 people attended the funeral which lasted three hours.
High profile officials as Governor Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Mayor Hilary Bryant of Santa Cruz, Former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta, Chief of Police of Santa Cruz Kevin Vogel, and Santa Cruz Supervisor Zach Friend all waxed eloquent in the eulogies to these two extraordinary peace officers.
The most heart wrenching testimonials came from Sgt. Baker’s daughter Jillian and Det. Butler’s partner Peter Wu as a picture of loss and deep devotion to their fallen family members were the high emotional moments during the three hour memorial.
The tragedy was punctuated by the friends and family members disclosing personal stories of their humor, work and dedication, and the love of their work and the Santa Cruz community.
There is something that has been always unnatural and unsettling about funerals in general as in many instances the lives of loved ones are cut tragically short by circumstances that leave much unfinished. Sgt. Baker was nearing retirement and Det. Butler was just beginning to ascend in her career as an accomplished and well respected criminal investigator.
The exemplary character of Sgt. Baker and Det. Butler was forged well before becoming members of the Santa Cruz police force. All their police work did was to allow that character to shine.
With all that was shared during the memorial service, it was only Pastor Rene Schlaepfer’s closing remarks that offered some hope and understanding to the horrific events that unfurled a little over a week prior.
Pastor Schlaepfer appealed to those in the service to seize the opportunity and moment to invest in the faith that became part of the character of Sgt. Baker and Det. Butler. The moment that was a tragedy could ultimately be turned into a triumph. Pastor Schlaepfer eloquently tied in the Easter season when Christ was crucified on a “Good Friday”, however the triumph of Jesus’ resurrection as prophesied is the hope that will resurrect Sgt. Baker and Det. Butler according to God’s promises.
The Bible prophesy stipulates, “oh death, where is thy sting, oh grave where is your victory?” when the Blessed Hope is manifested with the resurrection of the dead. This hope is the cornerstone of faith that empowered Sgt. Baker and Det. Baker.
It was the only spark of hope given which is a hope of those that subscribe to the Christian faith. The many stories written in the media as a follow-up to the memorial at HP Pavilion unfortunately missed Pastor Schlaepfer’s message of hope.https://twitter.com/reneschlaepfer
The bullets from the shots fired during the cowardly ambush of Jeremy Goulet did not accomplish what the killer intended. The Santa Cruz community, police officers and family will ultimately become stronger.
It is a Biblical principle displayed both by Sgt. Baker and Det. Butler lives……love conquers all.