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Acts of heroism in the line of fire

October 01, 2004

Jackson Bell

Officer Doug Staubs started the Golden Badge Foundation because of

his fallen Glendale Police comrade, Charles Lazzaretto.

When Lazzaretto was shot and killed in 1997 while pursuing an

attempted murder suspect in a Los Angeles warehouse, a few Los

Angeles Police officers risked their lives trying to rescue him.

Although they were honored in Washington, D.C., for their bravery,

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there was not an equivalent recognition in the state. So Staubs

approached the California Law Enforcement Assn., which represents

about 80,000 officers, and they collaborated to recognize outstanding

police work. The inaugural ceremony was last year.

"I thought to myself that California is a big state and one of the

more active and hazardous states for police officers," he said.

"There are many instances of heroism ... but I found out there

weren't awards at the state level."

Today, 25 police officers from agencies throughout the state --

including five from Glendale Police -- will receive Golden Badge

awards for heroism. Sgt. Thomas Kuh, Det. Keith Soboleski, Officer

Jason Laase, and agents Pat Richardson and Mark Stocks will be among

those honored in Sacramento.

The Glendale officers will be honored for freeing two women -- and

then each other -- from gunfire in what police call the biggest gun

battle in the city's history. The rampage started when Jorge Beeton,

an unemployed security guard, opened fire on May 29, 2003, at

Griffith Park Apartments in the 400 block of Paula Avenue.

Soboleski, the first to arrive on scene, entered the complex and

took cover next to the pool, shielded by a building and a palm tree.

From his vantage point, Soboleski could see Beeton's apartment and

the two female residents trapped by gunfire behind a car.

Richardson and Laase arrived a few minutes later and hid behind

another car, delivering cover fire to free the women, who ran to

safety. Beeton turned his attention to Laase and Richardson and

started shooting. Both were eventually freed with the help of Kuh and

Stocks, police said.

The officers were previously awarded medals of valor from the

department.

Stocks said he was "touched" to be selected to receive an award

recognized from fellow officers throughout the state. But to be part

of a foundation rooted in Lazzaretto's memory heightens the honor.

"It means something to all of us who worked with him," he said.

"He was an extremely good friend and beloved officer."

The officers will be recognized at the Sheridan Grand Hotel in

Sacramento, and state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer will be the keynote

speaker.

All proceeds from the award ceremony will be donated to California

Peace Officers' Memorial and other law-enforcement organizations.

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