NEWMAN - Corporal Ronil Singh was remembered Thursday evening by community members, representatives of surrounding law enforcement agencies and his fellow Newman Police Department officers, one year to the day after he was shot and killed during a traffic stop.
Several hundred people turned out on a chilly December evening to pay tribute in a vigil for the fallen officer, gathering in Newman’s downtown plaza in a show of remembrance and respect.
Following a brief program and balloon release in the plaza, those gathered took part in a somber candlelight procession to the intersection of Eucalyptus Avenue and Merced Street for the dedication of a memorial flagpole which stands near the site where Singh was killed.
He was remembered Thursday as a hero whose legacy lives on.
“He was a protector who paid the ultimate price,” said Casey Graham, a Newman City Council member and Modesto police officer who was the master of ceremonies for the event.
Singh, he added, embodied the ideal of achieving the American dream.
Singh immigrated to the United States from his native Fiji with the dream of becoming police officer, and worked tirelessly to achieve that goal.
Police Chief Randy Richardson thanked the community, allied agencies, the city and supporters from across the nation for helping the department and the Singh family through a time of tragedy.
The crowd gathered Thursday was every bit as large as that which turned out a few days after the tragedy to show its respects, he noted.
“I wondered tonight if we would have as many people and we do. The crowd is unbelievable,” Richardson stated. “Your support is what helped us get through this first year.”
He also praised the officers of the department, saying that in the face of tragedy they continued to be “the ones out there every day keeping our community safe.”
“I didn’t know how we could go back to work,” Richardson reflected. “I don’t know if I was in their position I could have done it. I think we have grown as a department and I think we have become closer as a family.”
Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse said those attending the vigil embraced not only the officer but the ideals for which he stood.
“What you are doing tonight stands for what Cpl. Singh believed in,” Dirkse told those gathered. “He believed in this country, he believed in this community, he believed in this family and in this law enforcement family. This is what should be remembered moving forward.”
Newman Police Cpl. Ashley Williams also acknowledged the groundswell of support, saying that even a year later “I don’t think there is a street in this town you can drive down that doesn’t have a thin blue line flag or a blue light on their porch. It’s everywhere.”
She encouraged those in attendance to honor Singh by living as he did, with an adventurous spirit and a constant willingness to help others.
“Set goals for yourself and go out and crush them, like he did,” Williams remarked. “Make every day count like he did.”
Newman Police Sgt. Chad Earle also expressed his appreciation to the community.
“Nothing is ever going to fill that void of not having Ron there every day,” he reflected. “He believed in this community, and this community has really shown how special it is.”