Santa Cruz Police have taken some heat for moving the ceremony honoring two slain officers to San Jose – but the department has taken steps to include people who can't make it over the hill.
There will be a live feed of the noon ceremony at HP Pavilion broadcast to the Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz. It will also be televised on KSBW-TV's website, and Community Television.
Seating will be first come, first served at the Santa Cruz Arena.
The county's transit agency will provide a few free buses to San Jose for those who can't afford to drive, seniors or those who are handicapped. Officials are asking others to organize carpools.
The Internet was filled with people complaining that the ceremony was moved out of town and on their first day back officers were confronted by residents who were unhappy about it.
"It's not as if the department wouldn't want it here," said County Supervisor Zach Friend, who has been contributing his time back to the Santa Cruz Police Department, where he used to be spokesman. "This is their first choice. But it's just not possible."
Friend said the families of Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler wanted the ceremony under one roof so people could share it, and there is no building big enough here. Outdoor places, such as Cabrillo College, wouldn't work because of the possibility of bad weather, he said.
As many as 6,000 public safety officers from around the state could be there, based on similar ceremonies in the past. HP Pavilion held a recent tribute in November for fallen
Thousands of police cars will join in a motorcade through Santa Cruz and over Highway 17 to the event leaving at 8:45 a.m. traveling along Ocean Street from the beach Thursday. Police from Monterey County will fill in for Santa Cruz officers during the memorial.
While attending the memorial will be an effort, Friend asked people to consider driving a mile for each of the years these officers served as a way to honor them.
Added Police Chief Kevin Vogel: "We are humbled by the number of people that want to come together and honor our fallen heroes."