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May 2004

Deputy Juan Carlos (JC) Garcia

Riverside County (CA) Sheriff's Department

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Deputy Juan Carlos (JC) Garcia as its Officer of the Month for May 2004. Deputy Garcia has served with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department since January 1998.

According to anyone who works with him, JC Garcia is one of those rare individuals who always has a smile on his face, which immediately lightens up the day for anyone he encounters. In turn, bad days seldom keep this young man down. "JC is a very upbeat person and always kept tense situations lively," explains Deputy Sheriff C. Waters of this young deputy.

Early in his career Deputy Garcia realized that the best instructors he would ever have were the seasoned, more experienced deputies within his own department, and he never missed an opportunity to seek their guidance and learn from these skilled professionals. What he learned from them, coupled with his own experience and instinct, undoubtedly played a role in the events of August 17, 2001.

At approximately 8:40 am, Deputy Garcia had observed a vehicle that matched the description of one reported stolen. According to the report he received from dispatch, the suspects were armed and dangerous and additional deputies were being dispatched to the scene.

While awaiting backup, Garcia noticed one of the passengers exit the vehicle and walk nonchalantly up to a nearby residence. Not wanting to lose the suspect, Garcia followed the man who was talking with the resident of a nearby home. Sensing the two did not know each other, Garcia attempted to coax the suspect away from the residence. In a flash, the suspect turned and at close range fired several shots from a 38 caliber revolver. Although the first shot struck Deputy Garcia in the hand, he was able to draw his weapon and return fire. A second round hit the deputy in the face. However, bleeding profusely and in extraordinary pain, he continued returning fire until the suspect fled. Not wanting to lose the suspect, he attempted to give chase. Realizing the magnitude of the deputy's injuries, the residents of the home and fellow deputies who arrived on the scene restrained the seriously injured, yet determined young deputy.

Deputy Garcia, displaying courage under fire, made a conscious effort to protect the residents of the house with little regard for his own personal safety. Thankfully, Deputy Garcia recovered from his life threatening injuries and was able to testify against the suspect. It took only an hour for the jury to reach a guilty verdict.

For his actions characterized as above and beyond the line of duty, Deputy Juan Carlos Garcia was awarded the Medal of Courage Award and the Sheriff's Gold Heart Award from the Riverside County Sheriff's Office. Throughout his career he has also received other awards and commendations such as The American Legion's "Merit Award; The Latino Police Officer's Association "Officer of the Year Award"; The Rotary Club's "Public Safety Recognition Award" and the California Coalition of Law Enforcement Association's "Gold Badge of Courage Award." He is a member of the Riverside Sheriff's Association, is married and has one young child.

"Deputy Garcia consistently maintains a positive attitude and a professional motivated work ethic," Captain John Horton states," He exemplifies the best of our profession and of humanity. He is a hero and a role model for every Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy."