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August 2005

Officer Jonathan Pate

Santa Clara (CA) Police Department

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Officer Jonathan Pate of the Santa Clara (CA) Police Department as its Officer of the Month for August 2005.

Jonathan Pate became interested in a career in law enforcement while in high school. He had the opportunity to go on drive-a-longs with some friends who were officers and he was hooked. He wanted an exciting career with stability and the opportunity for advancement and so armed with a degree in Criminal Justice from San Jose State University he joined the Santa Clara Police Department in November 2001.

Law enforcement officers are trained to notice things while on patrol that the average citizen might overlook. A person acting nervously, a car that doesn't quite fit or an open gate that is usually locked just might be a subtle clue alerting the officer that something is wrong. By instinct, these trained professionals react to these signals and investigate what just might be a life threatening situation. For eight Santa Clara University students, one police officer's attention to a small detail spared them their lives.

In the early morning hours of June 9, 2005 while patrolling near Santa Clara University Officer Pate noticed smoke rising from a couch on the front porch of a home. After radioing the fire department, Officer Pate began banging on the front door in order to alert the residents of the building. As he knocked on the door the smoldering couch burst into flames and within sixty seconds the porch was fully engulfed. As the front entrance to the building became impassable, Officer Pate entered through the rear and very quickly realized that the lives of eight sleeping Santa Clara University students were in jeopardy. Officer Pate set about waking the students and calmly reassured them that the fire rescue team was on its way as he escorted them out through the rear of the building.

Firefighters arrived at the house within minutes of Officer Pate's call only to find fire pouring out of every door and window. Fortunately, however, all eight students were present and accounted for with no injuries to any of them or Officer Jonathan Pate. The damage dealt by the fire was estimated at $250,000 and the cause of the fire remains undetermined.

Officer Pate states his greatest satisfaction is when the life of anyone he comes into contact with as a law enforcement officer is changed for the better. In addition to the extreme gratitude of the SCU students an their families, Officer Jonathan Pate was awarded the Life Saving Award by the Santa Clara City Council in July 2005. Santa Clara Fire Department Chief Phil Kleinheinz stated, "This is a story that would have made national headline news of the worst kind had it not been for the quick and decisive actions by one of our own police officers. If Officer Pate had come around two minutes later or if he had not been so observant on that rainy Thursday morning, eight Santa Clara University students would most likely have perished in what would have been one of the worst disasters in Santa Clara's history." Only a few months earlier, Officer Pate was awarded the Medal of Merit when he and his team rescued a gunshot victim from a house while the armed suspect was still inside.

Officer Jonathan Pate continues to protect and serve with the Santa Clara Police Department. Pate is a member of the Santa Clara Police Department SWAT Team as well as the Peer Support Team.