National Law Enforcement Officers Week is this week, with May 15th designated as National Law Enforcement Officers Day. This year, one of our own was honored in a ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Memorial and at the Thurgood Marshal Federal Judicial Building in D.C.
U.S. Probation Officer Charles Venz, Southern District of California, was killed in the performance of his duties on October 2, 1979, after being involved in an automobile accident while conducting field visits.
This past Monday, May 15, Officer Venz was honored in a ceremony at the Probation and Pretrial Services Office (AO-PPSO), which was attended by his three daughters and brother, as well as several other family members. As National President of FPPOA, it was an honor and privilege to be invited, and be a part of the day and ceremony. The touching and heartfelt program included opening remarks by Julie Och, AO-PPSO, who coordinated the event. Comments were made by Lee Ann Bennett, Deputy Director of the Administrative Office; Matt Rowland, Chief of PPSO; and Chief Probation Officer David Sultzbaugh, California Southern. Also in attendance were Chief’s Advisory Group Chair, Chief U.S. Probation Officer Tony San Giacomo, Western New York, as well as several others from AO-PPSO. The ceremony concluded with comments from Officer Venz’s youngest daughter, Holly Ryan. Officer Venz’s name now appears on the National Law Enforcement Memorial wall. On behalf of all U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Officers, FPPOA sends our thoughts and prayers to Officer Venz’s wife, daughters, brother and family as he is remembered.
In addition to U.S. Probation Officer Venz, our system has suffered the loss of two other officers and one support staff in the line of duty.
U.S Probation Officer Joseph Matt DeLozier (Oklahoma Northern) died September 9, 1935. While traveling for official business, he stopped at a gas station and upon exiting his vehicle to refuel, his firearm fell to the pavement and discharged, the bullet hitting him in the thigh and severing an artery.
U.S. Probation Clerk Marie Christopher Curtis (West Virginia Northern) died December 31, 1966. In the morning of December 27, 1966, a female parolee bypassed the federal building’s elevator and walked to the third floor, entering the U.S. Probation Office. There, the parolee shot Mrs. Curtis five times, before turning the gun on herself. Mrs. Curtis died four days later.
U.S. Probation Officer Thomas Eric Gahl (Indiana Southern) died September 22, 1986. On that morning, Officer Gahl conducted a home visit on a parolee with mental health and violent tendencies. He knocked on the parolee’s door with no answer, returned to his vehicle, and then returned to the house. The parolee exited the house and charged at Officer Gahl with a shotgun, shooting him three times.
We remember these four individuals who served our system. And we must always remember in all situations, remain vigilant, stay alert, be trained and be ready.