Sergeant John Alfred Aguilar grew up in Santa Ana, so it was only natural he returned to his community as part of the Santa Ana Police Department. He dedicated himself to not only ridding his neighborhood of drugs, but helping out the people in his community whenever he could.
Sergeant Aguilar started his law enforcement career in 1978 with the Orange Police Department where he often worked undercover purchasing narcotics. In 1984, he took a job with the Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. Assigned to the Clandestine Lab Unit, he participated in the raids and seizures of many labs and took part in many undercover operations.
In 1987, Sergeant Aguilar began working with the Santa Ana PD and was soon assigned to a specialized team focusing on areas known for narcotic distribution. He was promoted to Corporal shortly after.
In the early 1990s, Sergeant Aguilar served as the face of the department on recruitment billboards placed near the neighborhood where he grew up. The first billboard was just three blocks from his childhood home. When the Santa Ana PD was named one of the nation’s best dressed law enforcement departments, Sergeant Aguilar modeled one of the uniforms. He was truly proud to wear his police uniform and to be part of the Santa Ana PD.
In 1993, he joined the Special Narcotics Unit, Street Team. After being promoted, Sergeant Aguilar served as the Sergeant of the Orange County Regional Narcotics Suppression Program and then Sergeant of the Santa Ana Police Department Special Investigation Division Major Narcotic Unit. Through the course of his work, he participated in the seizure of multiple clandestine labs, mostly meth labs, and worked undercover drug buys. While with the Santa Ana PD, he seized over 25 meth labs.
Due to his exemplary police record and his personality—often described as being a “cop’s cop”—Sergeant Aguilar was well liked by both the public and his fellow officers. While he loved his job, he was truly devoted to his family.
In December of 1997, Sergeant Aguilar experienced unfamiliar back pain and was soon diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Although receiving bone marrow transplants from his brother, he lost his short battle just six months after beginning treatment. It was later determined that repeated exposure to Benzene, a carcinogenic chemical commonly used to produce methamphetamines, through the course of his law enforcement career led to the Leukemia.
Sergeant John Aguilar died due to his illness on June 30, 1998, leaving behind his wife Terri and four daughters: Rene, Michelle, Anna and Marie. Since his death, Sergeant Aguilar’s family has grown to include grandchildren. He is still loved and missed by his family and the many police officers who worked with him over his career.