Through prayer and song, hundreds turn out to praise La Habra Police

By Lou Ponsi

The city of La Habra’s official motto is “La Habra, a caring community.”

Judging by the 250 or so community members who gathered in song, prayer and praise in front of the La Habra Police Department on July 26, that motto is well deserved.

Mead Chesebro of Calvary Chapel in La Habra sings inspirational songs as community members and religious leaders gather at the steps of La Habra PD to pray for officers who serve the city. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Mead Chesebro of Calvary Chapel in La Habra sings inspirational songs as community members and religious leaders gather at the steps of La Habra PD to pray for officers who serve the city.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Guided by local religious leaders, the informal gathering was organized to pay homage to the men and women who risk their lives to keep them safe.

Mayor Jim Gomez came up with the idea for the prayer vigil, mainly in response to the general invective towards police in some circles and recent ambush style attacks on police officers in Dallas, TX and Baton Rouge, LA, where a combined eight officers were shot and killed.

“There has been so much turmoil and attacks against people in public safety,” Gomez said. “I just thought that something had to be done.”

Embracing the words of Pastor Lance Cook of Calvary Chapel La Habra, the gatherers also prayed for the families of those fallen officers.

“There are lives of people in authority such as those that protect us that are being taken,” Cook said. “We just pray for those, their family members (of) these officers who have (been) attacked and whose lives have been taken. There is a lot of fear. There is a lot of division. There is a lot of uncertainty.”

Four-year-old Selah Greaney of La Habra plays for LHPD officers as she is held by her father, Alan Greaney, during a community gathering for La Habra PD officers. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Four-year-old Selah Greaney of La Habra prays for LHPD officers as she is held by her father, Alan Greaney, during a community gathering for La Habra PD officers.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Mike Murphy, the police department’s lead chaplain, said the city’s police personnel take their roles as protectors very seriously and are consummate professionals in everything they do.

“I can tell you honestly that they are truly appreciative of all of your thanks and I am too,” Murphy told the gathering. We pray Lord for protection upon them. We pray that they would know how much they mean to us and how much we appreciate them.”

Speaking in English and Spanish, Father Ed Becker pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church asked God to “help all of us to appreciate and support our police in their sometimes difficult and dangerous work.”

“Even in these violent and dangerous times elsewhere, you have helped our police to protect and service in justice and in peace,” Becker said.

When the 40-minute gathering ended, dozens of people gathered around Gomez and thanked him for organizing the event.

“I love that this community comes together,” said Becky Pyle, manager at Imperial Beach Self Storage.

At least 15 police officers, along with some Los Angeles County Firefighters, who serve La Habra were on hand to hear the accolades.

La Habra Police Cpt. Jeff Swaim said he was humbled by the number of people who turned out for the event.

“Amazing … Inspiring,” Swaim said. “Didn’t expect the crowd. We love the community and we love to serve.”

Hundreds of community members gathered at La Habra PD to pray for the the men and women of the La Habra PD. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Hundreds of community members gathered at La Habra PD to pray for the the men and women of the La Habra PD.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Rev. Dr. Joyce Brooks, assisting priest for St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach, joins other religious leaders in front of the police department in praying for the men and women who serve the community. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Rev. Dr. Joyce Brooks, assisting priest for St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach, joins other religious leaders in front of the police department in praying for the men and women who serve the community.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

La Habra Capt. Jeff Swaim, left, listens to religious leaders during a community gathering as they talk about how much the men and women of the police department are appreciated. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

La Habra Capt. Jeff Swaim, left, listens to religious leaders during a community gathering as they talk about how much the men and women of the police department are appreciated.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Hundreds gathered in front the La Habra PD to pray for the officers who serve the city. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Hundreds gathered in front the La Habra PD to pray for the officers who serve the city.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Community members bow their heads as they prayed in front of the La Habra PD for the officers who serve the city. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Community members bow their heads as they prayed in front of the La Habra PD for the officers who serve the city.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

La Habra PD Chaplain Mike Murphy talks to community members who came to pray for the men and women of the La Habra PD. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

La Habra PD Chaplain Mike Murphy talks to community members who came to pray for the men and women of the La Habra PD.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC