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Santa Ana officers honored for assisting LAPD during LA riots

April 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's been nearly 20 years since the Los Angeles riots began. To commemorate the anniversary, the Los Angeles Police Department is officially thanking one of the Southern California law enforcement agencies that came to its aid.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck presented retired Santa Ana Police Sgt. John Follo with a 1992 Civil Unrest Ribbon, offering recognition after 20 years for what he did to help during the L.A. riots.

"It was a very, very dark day for the Los Angeles Police Department, but even dark days have their bright spots, and one of the bright spots was the incredible response from other law enforcement agencies," said Beck.

Beck recognized more than 50 Santa Ana Police officers who helped the LAPD during the riots that erupted across the city after a jury acquitted four LAPD officers accused in the videotaped beating of Rodney King following a traffic stop.

More than 50 people died in the riots. Police arrested more than 11,000 people; 1,100 buildings burned. The total loss in dollars was more than $1 billion.

The Santa Ana Police officers were among more than 20,000 officers with other law enforcement agencies, and the National Guard, to help out over the six days of rioting.

As the 20th anniversary approaches, it brings back a lot of memories for those who served.

"A lot of gunfire. Everywhere that you went there was miscellaneous gunfire and a lot of it close where we were at," said Santa Ana Police Commander James Schnabl.

"It seems like I was on the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' ride, you know, with the boats going through the town that's burning all around you and people are running around. I've always remembered it that way," said Santa Ana Police Sgt. John Follo (Retired).

Retired Santa Ana officer Patrick Pierson remembers answering a call of suspicious activity in a warehouse.

"There was actually a guy in there starting a fire, getting ready to burn that building down, and we took them all into custody," said Pierson.

It's a special honor on the 20th anniversary of the worst riots in American history.

"You feel grateful that they remembered you," said Follo.

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