Irvine police explorers make honor bands for fallen officers

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- Police explorers in Irvine are helping departments across the country after the loss of an officer killed in the line of duty.

Irvine Police Explorer Ben Tran learned a new skill this week; how to honor fallen officers by engraving their badge number on black mourning bands.

"All of our events we get to do are very lighthearted and friendly. We'll greet kids, direct traffic. But this is one of the things where we get to connect on a deeper level to help them mourn their loss," said Tran.

The explorers are high school students who service the community by working toward a career in law enforcement. The program is run by Kyle Oldoerp who decided to partner with the nonprofit Honorbands after his friend, Cypress Police Officer Matt Ward, was killed while he was off-duty.

"One of my friends passed away and I was given one at the funeral and I was so touched by the personalized aspect of it. It was a piece of my friend," said Oldoerp.

Sadly, Honorbands has a difficult time keeping up with demand. When five Dallas police officers were killed in 2016, honor bands had to make 6,000 bands for the entire department.

The Irvine police explorers will now serve as a satellite office for the nonprofit. When the Irvine Police Explorer program gets the call from Honorbands that they need help, explorers will volunteer their time to make the bands. It's something the department hopes is a lasting partnership.

"It's a beautiful and a final tribute. It's the last time anybody is going to see those call numbers or that badge number," said Laura Tartaglione, the co-founder of Honorbands.

Oldoerp added that "it constantly reminds our explorers of the sacrifice of law enforcement. Officers are killed in the line of duty constantly."
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