first_imgBy Laura E. Davis Staff Writer Torrance police Officer Thomas Keller was finishing his shift on April 17, 1986, when a call came in about a deranged man with a gun. Keller, 25 at the time, could have just gone home, but he decided to join his fellow officers on the call. Keller’s older sister, Patricia Foreman, was present at the event. She said the family was proud that the recruits recognized Keller. “It was really overwhelming,” Foreman said. “This just meant so much to me and my family.” Joining her were parents Max and Eleanor, brother John, and Keller’s best friend, Scott Tunnicliffe. Chivas Fujimoto, Class 365’s lone Torrance recruit, researched Keller’s story and lobbied to dedicate the run to him. “He seemed like an honorable candidate,” Fujimoto said. “He was a team player. He was just an all-around good cop.” The run began at 7 a.m. at the Torrance police station, where it also ended. The 114 recruits of Class 365 and other officers from all over the South Bay made a stop along the route at the Thomas Keller Memorial Park, at Sartori and Marcelina avenues in downtown Torrance. The site is about 100 yards from where Keller was killed. The wooden sign marking the park was decorated for the occasion Friday with purple and white flowers. Police Chaplain Dean Mayeda prayed for the protection of the recruits. “Dear God, may we never forget those who have gone before us who have paid the ultimate sacrifice not in vain, but for the safety of our community,” Mayeda said, looking out from the grass to the recruits standing and kneeling in the street. “May their lives inspire us to excellence in all we do.” Keller’s family and Tunnicliffe bowed their heads as Mayeda prayed. They each wore a blue flowerless lei made by Fujimoto’s mother. Nearly 200 runners participated in the run. Joining the recruits were officers from every police department in the South Bay, with about 45 of them from Torrance, Crespin said. After the run, Fujimoto, on behalf of the class, presented Keller’s family with a mounted etching of Keller’s name. He also revealed a plaque commemorating the event that will be displayed in the recruits’ classroom. The wooden plaque displays a picture of Keller in uniform next to a poem titled “The Final Inspection.” The crowd then filed into the police station assembly room to watch a nine-minute video done by the recruits’ academy to honor Keller. Afterward, a breakfast was held in the department parking lot. Throughout the event, those who knew Keller said it was important to remember not just how he died but also how he lived. Friends and fellow officers remembered him as a high achiever who liked to play practical jokes. “At work he was a consummate professional,” said Tunnicliffe, who met Keller in third grade and was to be the best man in his wedding. “But away from the job he was one of the most happy-go-lucky people around.” Foreman called her brother thoughtful and giving. “He was dedicated to his family,” she said. “We miss him a lot still.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.“That’s the kind of guy he was,” said Torrance Officer Dave Crespin, who was a friend of Keller’s. “I think that shows the true sense of a guy who wants to help.” The call would be Keller’s last. He was shot and killed in front of a sporting goods store as the shirtless gunman sprayed bullets at officers. On Friday, Recruit Class No. 365 of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department remembered Keller in its Colors Run – a 41/2-mile trek that takes place near the end of their 18-week training program and commemorates a fallen officer. This year, recruits donned dark green shorts and black T-shirts displaying Keller’s name, honoring for the first time an officer from outside the Sheriff’s Department. “They could not have picked a better person,” said Torrance Police Chief John Neu, who knew Keller and participated in the run. “It is an absolute honor for all of us.” Keller, a former Marine Corps rifleman, was the fourth officer to be killed in the department’s history. No Torrance officers have died in the line of duty since then. last_img

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