MADERA COUNTY, California (KSEE) – Law enforcement is a tight-knit community and after hearing the ambush and death of a Santa Cruz deputy, it hit home for one Madera County Sheriff’s deputy.
Over the weekend, law enforcement and community members banded together at a vigil to remember Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, a Santa Cruz County deputy who was shot and killed on Saturday.
The news of Gutzwiller’s death hitting home for deputy Sarah Jackson, Madera County Sheriff’s new public information officer.
“I started my law enforcement career in Santa Cruz County in 2008 and Damon had just started his I believe a year or two prior to that,” Jackson said.
Jackson was working for the California Highway Patrol at the time and Gutzwiller was working for the sheriff’s office.
“We worked the mountain beat in Santa Cruz County which is Ben Lomond, which is the area he was still working, we worked that together for a few years,” Jackson said.
She says they worked together on a number of service calls and that Gutzwiller always put others first.
“He cares about people and he was just a kind person and he always resolved things in the kindness way that he could,” Jackson said.
When people sign up for the law enforcement profession, Jackson says they make a commitment to protect their communities.
She says they know there’s always a chance that they might not make it home.
Gutzwiller leaves behind a pregnant wife and their toddler.
“He went to that call knowing that it was dangerous but he cared about that community and he wanted to protect them,” Jackson said.
The last officer-involved-shooting in Santa Cruz was in 2013, before that it was in 2002, and prior to that, there was one in the ’80s.
“Every law enforcement officer notices when another one’s live is taken, it’s hard on us all and it’s particularly hard when there’s a personal connection,” Jackson said.