Memories go up in smoke

Memories go up in smoke

By Tenzin Shakya

Published: Thursday, September 11, 2008 at the DVC Inquirer

The arson fire that destroyed DVC’s Police Services building June 23 took years of memories from the officers who called it their “work home.” Lt. Tom Sharp, who supervises police services at DVC, called the fire “a work of true, active cowardliness.” The fire destroyed plaques and certificates that were hung on the walls to commemorate the department’s work over the years. Chief Charles Gibson lost photographs of himself with celebrities he’d met during his 32 years of police work, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Shaquille O’Neil.

“People usually think we are made of stone just because we’re cops,” Gibson said. “We’re just like everyone else.” Dispatcher Adam Ruiz, 22, said, “It was shocking to see this happen to us. Many of us had to pull extra hours to get the place running again.” In addition to uniforms, officers lost personal belongings, some of them irreplaceable. Dispatcher Rhonda Mims lost not only her clothes and badges but the only picture she had of her late mother. “No one will ever be able to replace that picture or the meaning it had for me” she said. A high point in the midst of the devastation was how the community showed its support, Sharp said.

Instructors, students and others brought food plates and drinks, while officers and the buildings and grounds crew converged at the scene to temporarily relocate the office. “Usually, just about everybody thinks of cops as the bad guys,” Sharp said. “But, it was a different feeling to have [people] show support in such gestures of simple kindness.”

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