The Alameda County Heroes Grave Project (ACHGP) was founded in June 2016 when it was discovered the first peace officer killed in the line of duty in Alameda County, Oakland Police Officer Richard B. Richardson (killed in 1867) was in an unmarked grave. The ACHGP has verified the resting places of all 86 peace officers killed in Alameda County since its formation in 1853. Through this effort, eight of these Heroes were found to be in unmarked graves and two were laying in family plots with small last name markers only. These grave sites date from the late 1800's to the early 1900's. Records do not indicate why they were unmarked, but it is likely the families at the time could not afford a marker. Law enforcement has for decades enjoyed a strong support system, making such a scenario in recent years unlikely. This project began to ensure the Heroes who gave their lives in the performance of their duties, were honored accordingly. This all became possible thanks to the generous donations of local Peace Officer Associations, friends and volunteers..
In early 2016, Jim Knudsen, a retired Lieutenant for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office got together with retired Oakland Police Officer Tim Sanchez to work on a presentation about Richard Richardson. Jim is currently the Executive Director of the Bay Counties Peace Officers' Association where he facilitates historical talks usually relating to Alameda County law enforcement. The presentation focused on the fact Richard B. Richardson was the first police officer killed in the line of duty at the Oakland Police Department as well as the first peace officer killed in Alameda County. During the course of conducting research about Richardson Jim decided to visit his resting place at Mountain View cemetery in Oakland. Jim was astonished to discover that Richardson had no grave marker.
Jim floated the idea that funds could be raised create and set a grave marker on Richardson's resting place in his honor. The thought then came up that Richardson might not be the only peace officer killed in the line of duty in Alameda County without a grave marker. With the increased scope of the project, retired Oakland Police Officer Michael Wozniak was brought on board to assist in the research and the development of a plan of action. To secure funding and make the concept a reality the project was formalized and given a name: The Alameda County Heroes Grave Project.
As of the beginning of the project, 86 Peace Officers had died in the line of duty in Alameda County since it's inception in 1853. A list of officers was obtained from several sources, including the 100 Club Memorial at Lone Tree cemetery in Hayward, the California Peace Officers Memorial website and the Memorial Wall at the Oakland Police Department, upon which 52 of the 86 officers are memorialized. Another 11 were Alameda County deputies or constables. The Oakland Police Officer's Association and Alameda County's Deputy Sheriffs Association had records of the locations for some, but not all of their officers/deputies. The ACHGP reached out to representatives of the other county police agencies to have them check the resting places of their officers. Where there was no official record of the location, the team did its own research. Online resources such as newspapers.com and newspaperarchive.com were used to search the dates of the incidents to see if there were corresponding articles that might provide further details of the death and subsequent articles relating to the funeral or services in hopes of finding mention of their final resting place. In the case of Richardson it was necessary to search the historical archives of the Bancroft Library in Berkeley. After locating the Heroes at several Bay Area cemeteries, the team then worked with staff to find their burial plots.
After discovering ten peace officers were in need of markers, The ACHGP needed to expand its plans. To raise enough for ten markers and fund their placement would take more than a few small donations. This website was constructed as a method to convey the stories of these Heroes, and also to facilitate online donations (The ACHGP Donation page was taken down after reaching our financial goal). Donations were also solicited at various Law Enforcement events.
The ACHGP was generously assisted by the Bras & Mattos Monument Company of Hayward, California . They embraced the task providing design services and creating the markers.
A dedication ceremony for the placement of the grave marker for Richard B. Richardson, the inspiration for this project, was held at Mountain View cemetery on the 150th anniversary of the day he was killed.
The stories of the 10 Heroes for which this project was formed can be found on the PROGRESS REPORT page. Please take a few minutes to read through them. Where available, there are links to original newspaper articles about the incidents.
Excess donations that exceeded the costs were donated to the Martin C. Kaufmann 100 Club of Alameda County. The 100 Club is a 501 (c) (3) not for profit charitable organization that provides immediate financial support to spouses of police officers and firefighters that are killed in the line of duty in Alameda County . The Club also provides college scholarships for the children of the police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty in Alameda County. Please visit www.100clubalamedacounty.org for more information about this wonderful organization. The founders of this project are proud members.