Tears were prevalent at the Ripon’s Police Memorial at 1 p.m. Saturday as it was dedicated in the memory of late Ripon officers Paul Stevens and Bob Winget.
The memorial and its granite plaques surrounded by engraved red bricks of donors who helped make the effort possible is located between the Veterans’ Memorial Building and the restored 1925 city jail in an effort that was spear headed by Ripon chef John Mangelos.
A police bagpiper opened and closed the ceremonies with familiar strains of music that has traditionally honored fallen officers. A large circular badge is located in the center of the concrete base to the memorial on the Veterans’ Memorial site at Locust Avenue and First Street, just south of Ripon’s Main Street.
Officer Winget’s wife Chris and his daughter Ashley were on hand for the dedication honoring their husband and father as was Jim Stevens for his dad the late Sgt. Paul Stevens. A stately honor guard of Ripon police officers headed by Stephen Meece added tradition to the ceremonies.
Ripon Police Chief Ed Ormonde welcomed the small crowd and offered his appreciation for the construction of the memorial and for the donations from many in the community.
Ashley Winget spoke to the audience and recalled how her dad had always been there for her and for all the members of her family during his long career as a police officer in Southern California and later coming to Northern California.
Sgt. Paul Stevens suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after struggling with a suspect on Friday, January 28, 1972. He and his partner were serving an arrest warrant on a suspect and discovered that he was in possession of marijuana. As they took him into custody he began to fight with Stevens who collapsed at the scene.
The Ripon Fire Department medics and a Ripon doctor attempted to revive the officer, but he died at the scene. Stevens had been a Ripon officer for some 18 years.
It was April 10, 2007 when Officer Robert “Bob” Winget died from injuries he received in an ATV accident while patrolling a remote area near the Stanislaus River on the east side of the community shortly before noon.
The ATV had reportedly flipped over on the officer as dispatchers received a garbled radio transmission from him. They were unable to make further radio contact at the time and he was located some 90 minutes later near the bank of the river.
Winget was transported to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto where he succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
Officer Winget was a U.S. Marine Corps vet and had served with the Ripon Police Department for three years following 20 years with the Los Angeles Police Department and 14 years with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. In addition to his wife Chris, he was survived by a son and three daughters.
The dedication Saturday was attended by former police chiefs Harvey Douma, Bill DeBie and Red Nutt along with a number of fellow officers.
Anyone wanting to add their donations to the project in the form of engraved bricks at the site may still do so by contacting the Ripon Police Association and Officer Stephen Meece.