The El Centro Police Department on Monday honored Correctional Officer Adrian Suarez of Calipatria State Prison (CAL) for assisting an El Centro Police Officer who was struggling with a combative suspect.

When Officer Suarez went to the aid of a police officer struggling with a suspect last July, he said he just wanted to make sure everyone went home safe to their family that day.

Members of the El Centro Police Department presented Officer Suarez with a letter of commendation.

“At the time, I wasn’t really concerned about me helping him. I was more concerned about the outcome and someone being hurt. I thought we all want to go home at the end of the day,” Suarez said. “I wasn’t expecting anything out of it but a simple thank you was enough for me.”

On June 30, an El Centro police officer was involved in a foot pursuit with a man, and once the officer caught up with him, a physical confrontation ensued as the man resisted.

Suarez was in the area shopping with his two young daughters when he saw the officer struggling with the man. He told his daughters to lock the car doors and stay inside while he helped the officer subdue the man until backup arrived.

Afterward, El Centro police started to look for Suarez to thank him but mistakenly thought he worked at Centinela State Prison. Once they found him, they wanted to make sure he was properly shown appreciation for his actions.

“On behalf of the El Centro Police Department, I want to commend you for rendering aid to our officer,” wrote Executive Cmdr. Eddie Madueno to Suarez. “You displayed a willingness to assist a fellow law enforcement officer and your assistance did not go unnoticed.”

However, the best prize came from his two daughters after the incident.

“They asked me if I was OK and I could see that they were scared. They’ve never seen me involved in an altercation,” Suarez said. “They said, ‘You’re a hero’ and I think that’s probably the best thing I’ve heard. That’s satisfaction for me. They’re proud of me.”

He also used it as a teaching moment for his girls, explaining to them that “it’s good to say something if you see someone doing something wrong.”

Suarez has been with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for 13 years.

“That’s one thing about working at CDC that we always say, that what we look forward to at the end of the day is to go home safe to our family,” he said. “Those words stick with you whether at work or out in the public. I feel that it’s our civil duty to each other.”

CAL officer honored

El Centro PD Executive Commander Eddie Madueno, left, shakes hands with Calpatria Correctional Officer Adrian Suarez at Monday’s ceremony.

Here is a copy of the letter of commendation:

letter of commendation