Hundreds of police officers attend kindergarten graduation for fallen colleague's daughter

Published: Friday, May 24 2013 9:25 a.m. MDT

Five-year-old Tatum Raetz and her mother receive support from the Phoenix Police Department at Tatum's kindergarten graduation. Tatum's father, officer Daryl Raetz, died on duty just three days prior to the event.

Phoenix Police Department

Members of the Phoenix Police Department supported a fallen officer’s family as they attended his daughter Tatum’s kindergarten graduation May 22.

Officer Daryl Raetz died three days before the event after he was struck by a car. The vehicle hit Raetz when he had pulled over a different car during a DUI traffic stop.

Originally, only Raetz’s squad and precinct planned to attend 5-year-old Tatum’s kindergarten graduation from Ridgeline Academy, but as more people within the department heard about it, more wanted to come.

“There was absolutely no way that you could keep officers who could be here away,” said a post on the Phoenix Police Department's Facebook page. “They came, even with their families.”

Hundreds of members of the police department attended the ceremony, making three standing lines at the back of the gym. During the ceremony, principal Keven Barker offered a moment of silence in behalf of officer Raetz.

As Tatum Raetz walked across the stage when her name was called, she received a standing ovation from the audience.

“This is wonderful, it’s uplifting, it’s just the most important thing we can do,” said Phoenix officer Sara Garza. “We honor his memory, but we celebrate and we’re there with his family.”

The sense of devotion and care the Phoenix Police Department lent to Raetz’s family runs deep.

“He’s left a precious child and a wife behind, and it’s our responsibility to make sure they are taken care of for the rest of their lives,” said Phoenix Sgt. Ben Kartchner.

CBS 5 - KPHO

Abby Stevens is an intern for the DeseretNews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact Abby at astevens@deseretdigital.com.

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