Former City of San Fernando police officer Jesse Paderez, who was accidentally shot and killed while on duty in 2002, was remembered by the graduating class of the Rio Hondo College Police Academy with a 3.7 mile run through the city streets on Monday, Jan. 9.
This year’s “Pride Run,” as it’s called by each graduating class, also raised money and awareness for Special Olympics.
Officer Paderez, one of 13 siblings, was a graduate of the Rio Hondo Academy College Police Academy in Whittier where many San Fernando police officers have received their law enforcement training.
Paderez worked on the City of San Fernando police force for 10 years before his accidental death at age 47. He was at the station on July 17, 2002, to pick up a patrol car, and was carrying his service weapon and other items in his hands when the .45 caliber handgun fell into the street.
The gun — still in his holster — hit the ground and discharged upon hitting the street. Paderez was struck in the head by the bullet.
Chief Anthony Vairo, who has served on the SFPD for 34 years, said he knew Paderez well.
“I was working canine back then and we were on the special response team,” Vairo said. “We trained together, worked the same shifts. We did searches together.
“Jesse was a good guy. He dealt with the public real well. He always interacted with the community, was very outgoing and well-liked. It was such a tragic loss.”
Vairo was contacted by academy officials in September, who said their 29 graduates of Class #203 wanted to honor Paderez’ memory with their pride run, which was the class’ final event before their graduation on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Both the SFPD and City of San Fernando officials worked out the logistics for the run.’
The run, which was not affected by sporadic rain, was given an added boost by the Los Angeles City Fire Department. A pair of fire trucks were sent to the corner of San Fernando Road and Maclay Avenue. The firefighters raised the truck ladders nearly 100 feet to hang an American flag for the runners to pass underneath.
Following the completion of the run, a brief ceremony was held at Recreation Park. Several of Paderez’s family members attended.
In addition, two of the graduating cadets who ran — Daniel Delgado and Jose Late — will be sworn in as San Fernando police officers today, Jan. 12.
— Mike Terry