Game of honor, Contest benefits slain officer’s family

Sunday, February 24, 2008 @ 01:02 PM Author:
Game of honor Contest benefits slain officer’s family Lauren McSherry, Staff Writer Article Launched: 02/23/2008 09:18:06 PM PST COLTON – The Inland Empire Enforcers charged onto the Colton High School football field on Saturday, ready to trounce the visiting Los Angeles Police Department Centurions.But they quickly fell behind. By the end of the first quarter, the Enforcers were down by two touchdowns. That might have been because something was compelling the Centurions to play harder than usual. Saturday was the first game for the Centurions since losing one of their own – SWAT Officer Randal Simmons, who played defensive back and wore No. 17. Simmons was shot to death Feb. 7 when a police standoff in Winnetka escalated to a gunbattle that ended with the deaths of five people. Simmons was the first LAPD SWAT officer killed in the line of duty. In honor of Simmons, the LAPD Centurions emblazoned his number on their helmets. They also said they would donate the proceeds from this game and their next one to the family of the slain officer and the causes he volunteered for in his spare time. They want to claim the 2008 National Public Safety Football Championship in honor of their fallen hero.A moment of silence was held for Simmons before kickoff. “We finally had an opportunity to get together as a group and to go out and show the heart and spirit we have, which is indicative of the type of heart and spirit Officer Simmons had,” said Centurions coach Donald Payne, an LAPD detective. Jack Cota, a directorfor the Los Angeles Protective League, said the game was only the first in a series of fundraisers planned in honor of Simmons, who mentored hundreds of inner city youths. “He spent a lot of time as a cop,” Cota said, “but he spent as much time with his church, with his family, with these kids in L.A.” Beaumont police Cpl. John Combado, who usually plays fullback for the Enforcers, cheered from the stands with his wife, Michelle. The money raised at Enforcers games usually goes to the Special Olympics, but this game was different. “It’s the right thing to do,” Combado said. The Enforcers team draws from a number of San Bernardino County law-enforcement agencies, including the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department as well as the Redlands, Chino and Colton police departments. In the fourth quarter, the Enforcers scored a touchdown with two minutes remaining. But it wasn’t enough. The Centurions won 27-16. Afterward, both teams gathered on the 50-yard line and held a prayer for Simmons. Then the Enforcers presented their opponents with their share of the money raised in his memory – a check for $2,500.

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