The Fullerton Police Department will join in honoring one its own fallen officers as the Orange County Sheriff Department has dedicated its upcoming Memorial Run to be held in the memory of Det. Tommy De La Rosa, who was killed in a drug sting more than 20 years ago.
De La Rosa was chosen by the Sheriff Department’s graduating Academy Class No. 211. Choosing an officer to honor in the Memorial Run is a tradition for each graduating class.
“Obviously it is very humbling that this academy class would honor Tommy for giving his life for our community,” said Chief Dan Hughes, who was De La Rosa’s partner. “As an officer he was involved in the community. Kids looked up to him. He worked with a lot of at-risk children. He wasn’t just involved in enforcement efforts, he was really trying to change the lives of these kids.”
Hughes said De La Rosa was killed trying to stop criminal drug dealers who were distributing thousands of dollars of narcotics into the community. Posing undercover as a narcotics trafficker, the detective was ambushed and shot five times on June 21, 1990. He returned fire, killing one of the suspects. Three others remain behind bars with life sentences.
De La Rosa, along with Officer Jerry Hatch, is the second Fullerton officer to be killed on duty. To honor him, Chief Hughes and a number of Fullerton police officers plan to run in the event, which will take place Aug. 20 at 9 a.m. at the Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy, 15991 Armstrong Ave., Tustin.
The Fullerton Police Athletic League and the Fullerton Police Officers Association combined to donate black Dri-Fit T-shirts with a Fullerton PD logo for those planning to run.
Immediately following the run, the Sheriff Academy class is sponsoring a complimentary barbecue for those in attendance.
OC Sheriff Lt. Jeff Hallock said the academy class was provided a book that told the story of each fallen officer in the county and that’s how De La Rosa was chosen. Nobody in the academy had any ties to De La Rosa’s family or the Fullerton PD, he said.
“Officer De La Rosa exemplified heart and valor in engaging multiple suspects and killing one of them despite being mortally wounded himself,” the Academy Class stated. “These are characteristics Class 211 hopes to live up to in the future.”
The run is just one of many honors dedicated to De La Rosa. A plaque honoring De La Rosa and Hatch sits in the lobby of the police department and both names appear on the department’s newly created Wall of Honor. Recently, the Fullerton Police Department honored De La Rosa by naming a squad car in his honor.
“Tommy was just an exceptional investigator,” Hughes said. “He was extremely gifted and worked in a number of different assignments. Tommy was an example of what we want officers to be.”