Editor’s note: In honor of Behind the Badge OC’s one-year anniversary, we will be sharing the 30 most-read stories. This story originally published Nov. 18, 2014.
1965 – 2014
Forty-eight years of love, laughter and leadership is represented by the dash that sits between the year Placentia Lt. Ken Alexander was born and the year his life ended.
“Everyone gets a dash,” said Placentia Police Chief Ward Smith. “It’s what you do with that dash that matters.”
And Alexander’s dash — his life — was full of purpose.
“He’s touched thousands, if not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, of lives throughout the world,” said longtime friend Anaheim Sgt. Daron Wyatt. “He dedicated his life to serving others.”
A small collection of those impacted by Alexander — nearly 2,000 people — gathered Tuesday at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim to celebrate his life.
Alexander suffered a massive heart attack Nov. 4 and died five days later at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton with family, friends and dozens of his law enforcement family close by.
“Kenny left nothing but a trail of smiles and laughter,” said Placentia Mayor Scott Nelson. “This is a loss that is really unfathomable.”
Alexander was described as a natural leader, a warrior spirit and a great teacher.
He greeted friends with a wet kiss on the cheek and leaned in when he spoke to people to show he was really listening.
He was known as Kenny to his friends and “the perfect son” among his family.
A stream of photos set to music rolled on a large screen in the church painting Alexander as a family man first, and a true patriot at a very close second.
“He was just beautiful,” said his mom, Carol Alexander. “He served his community, he served our nation and he was there for our family.
“He made me such a proud mama.”
Everyone who knew and loved Alexander was proud of the man he was.
Alexander enlisted in the Army in 1984 and served as a scout sniper with the 82nd Airborne Division.
After he was discharged, he entered the police academy and was hired in 1988 with the Tustin Police Department.
Later that same year, he worked with the Los Angeles Housing Authority Police.
Alexander served with the housing authority until 1998, and then was hired as an officer with the Placentia Police Department.
He also was a longtime DARE officer and is credited with being the driving force behind the formation of North County SWAT.
Alexander was promoted to sergeant in 2006 and lieutenant in 2012.
He received the Medal of Valor, law enforcement’s highest honor, in 1996 while with the Los Angeles Housing Authority.
He also was awarded the Placentia Police Distinguished Service Medal in 2002 for his actions at the scene of a major train crash.
During his law enforcement career, Alexander also re-enlisted in the Army as a reserve in the 19th Special Forces Unit and served two tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.
Alexander was awarded the Bronze Star for his role in the rescue operation of Jessica Lynch, a U.S. soldier captured by Iraqi forces.
That operation was the first successful rescue of a prisoner of war since World War II.
A life of service was something Alexander held close, even in his death.
As an organ donor, his family hoped his kidneys would go to Santa Ana Cpl. Steve Ahearn, 51, who needs a transplant.
Although the kidneys were not a match, Alexander’s donation went on to help others.
“Two people continue to live today because of his kidneys,” Wyatt said.
Much was said at Tuesday’s memorial to remember Alexander, from anecdotes illustrating his gregarious personality to a long list of accomplishments he achieved during his law enforcement career.
But there was one thing nobody said: goodbye.
“(Kenny) would want you to know if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ that this isn’t goodbye,” Wyatt said. “It’s ‘see you later.’
“I’ll see you later, my friend.”
Alexander is survived by his wife Michelle; mother, Carol; brothers Ben and Paul; sister, Robin; sons Byron, Sean, and Tyler; stepson, Jonah, and countless extended family members, including his law enforcement family.
The photograph at the top of the story shows the family of Lt. Kenneth Alexander of the Placentia Police Department, including his mother Carol Alexander, left, and his brother Capt. Ben Alexander of the San Bernardino Fire Department, hugging during a police procession at the conclusion of the memorial service. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC