Members of the Chico Police Department gathered at the Chico Cemetery Friday to honor Carlton J. Bruce, the only Chico officer ever killed in the line of duty.
During the graveside ceremony, the department retired Bruce's badge number.
"As a police officer, having the badge number retired is 75 years overdue. It is just the right thing to do," Chico Police Officers’ Association President Peter Durfee said.
Bruce was shot and killed by a gunman on February 22, 1938 at a parlor while investigating reports of a stranger brandishing a rifle.
The 36-year-old left behind a wife and two children. While they have since passed, more than a dozen of their children and grandchildren were on hand for Friday's ceremony.
"It's always been a part of our family, so it is nice to see the recognition." Bruce’s Granddaughter Cheryl Jamee Bruce-Warner said.
Bruce's grandchildren say they appreciate the department taking the time to honor their grandfather and carry on his memory, just as their parents shared his stories with them.
"He loved to hunt and fish. I have a photo of him holding my dad when he was a kid up in the mountains, because he loved to hunt and fish," Bruce’s Granddaughter Susan Ward said.
Along with retiring badge number five, about 60 members of the department purchased replicas of his badge that were handmade by Chico State art professor David Barta.
Those members are planning to wear the badges in place of their own for the next two month to honor their fallen comrade.
"It's just a reminder of somebody who paid the ultimate sacrifice in this city," Durfee said.
Officers will wear the commemorative badges until Peace Officers’ Memorial Day on May 15th.
Members of the Police Officers’ Association say they are especially thankful to Lt. Jennifer Gonzales who surrendered badge number five so it could be retired.