Vancouver Police Officer Donald Sahota among those honored Thursday by area leaders, officials and citizens
For Clark County Today
In the middle of this year’s National Police Week, traditionally the week in which May 15 falls, Clark County hosted its own Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on Thursday at the Public Service Center in Vancouver. The ceremony is an annual honoring of law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty both locally and nationally. Local honor guard members from multiple agencies attended the service, along with several officials from the cities within Clark County.
Vancouver Police Chief Jeff Mori and Clark County Sheriff John Horch both attended a National Police Week service and activities in Washington, D.C. On Sat., May 13, the 35th annual Candlelight Vigil was held, at which over 500 officers, family members, and supporters gathered to honor the many officers killed in the line of duty in 2022: 224 of them to be exact. Chief Mori’s attendance marked the Vancouver Police Department’s highest-ranking officer honoring the department’s own 2022 loss, Officer Donald Sahota.
Officer Sahota was killed Jan. 29, 2022, when an armed man fled in a stolen vehicle from the scene of a robbery he’d just committed at a convenience store. The suspect, 20-year-old Julio Segura, knocked on the home of Sahota in rural Battle Ground after Segura’s vehicle was immobilized by spike strips during a police pursuit. Sahota was at home and off duty at the time and attempted to restrain Segura until police arrived. During a struggle, Segura stabbed Sahota three times, causing Sahota to drop the handgun he’d been holding. Segura ran towards the front door of the residence, where Sahota’s wife was, and Sahota picked up his gun and gave chase. At that point, Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived on scene and shot Sahota, mistaking him for the suspect.
Officer Sahota was with the Vancouver Police Department for seven years. Before that, he served the Gresham Police Department for 17 years and the Port of Portland Police Department for two years.
Sahota was well represented in Washington, D.C., and also at the Clark County service with many VPD officers in attendance. Sahota’s wife and children attended the D.C. memorial as well.
Other officers from Washington state who were honored this year after being killed in 2022 were: Deputy Dominique Calata of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office who was killed March 16 when he was shot and killed during a SWAT operation; Officer Dan Rocha of the Everett Police Department who was killed March 25 when he was shot in the head and then run over by the suspect; and Officer Jordan Jackson of the Bellevue Police Department who was killed November 21 in an on-duty motorcycle collision.
Also honored this year from Washington state were Officer Thomas Wray of the Bellevue Police Department who died of an on-duty heart attack on January 22, 2002; Deputy Daryl Shuey of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office who died of an on-duty heart attack on November 10, 2020; and Corrections Officer Darryl Goodrich of the Washington State Department of Corrections who died of COVID-19 on August 20, 2021.
Sheriff Horch’s attendance also honored Sergeant Jeremy Brown at the highest level. Sergeant Brown, who was promoted posthumously, was shot and killed on July 23, 2021, while sitting in his undercover vehicle conducting surveillance. Sergeant Brown had served with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for 15 years and was assigned to the Drug Task Force at the time of his death. He was a Marine Corp veteran and had also served the Washington State Department of Corrections and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office in Montana.
Sergeant Brown was also well represented in Washington, D.C. by several Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies’ attendance, including Sheriff Horch and his wife, Michelle, and Sergeant Brown’s surviving wife, Jill.
Many businesses and groups around the area are doing their share to honor fallen heroes, as well as showing support to those still serving. The Clark County Republican Women (CCRW), for example, put a team of members together to deliver cookies to agencies all over Clark County. CCRW President Liz Cline said that the message on the note cards that went with the cookies read, “Thank you for your service and dedication! Clark County Republican Women Back the Blue!” Additionally, Cline told Clark County Today, “Anytime and any way we can, we will show and declare our appreciation and support of law enforcement.”
The newly appointed Director of Jail Services and previous Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy David Shook also hired Sarah Akey of Lemonade Road Designs to deliver cookies and cupcakes to the Corrections Officers at the Clark County Jail. Lemonade Road has also pledged to donate proceeds from sales during Police Week to Kindness 911, a nonprofit that recognizes people for their positive impact on their community and connects first responders with the public they serve.
“This was one of the highest honors,” said Akey, “to be asked to serve and show gratitude to people that serve so selflessly. Anyone behind any badge, be it corrections officers, patrol officers, or any first responder. These men and women step into places that I wouldn’t dare. They serve in a way that I’m not brave enough to. Their families sacrifice in ways that I can’t understand. They swore and oath to serve and protect and it will forever be my honor and privilege to respect and appreciate them however I can. Whether that be cookies and cupcakes, shining a blue light on my front porch, thanking them when I see them in person, I’m honored to do so, and thankful to Mr. Shook for this opportunity.”
Local Fraternal Order of Police Lower Columbia Lodge 12 President Jeffrey Anaya said that the annual memorial service is an important reminder to the risks officers take each and every day. “When one agency loses an officer, law enforcement around the country feels the pain,’’ Anaya said. “The national memorial allows us to grieve, reflect, and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. We are grateful to the many community members that took time out of their days this week to show us appreciation. It really does make a difference.”
There are more than 22,000 officers honored on the memorial walls in Washington, D.C.
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