A year ago, Mothers Against Drunk Driving presented an award to Rocklin Police Officer Matthew Redding for making the most arrests of drunken driving suspects in 2003. That year, Officer Redding took 25 DUI suspects off the streets – the most of any police officer in Placer County.
On Sunday, October 9, 2005, a drunk driver took Officer Redding’s life.
Redding was assisting Citrus Heights police in a high risk traffic stop setting up traffic cones when Eric Dungan of Lincoln struck the officer and drove away. Dungan was arrested shortly after the crash and charged with gross vehicular manslaughter, felony hit and run, and driving under the influence. Authorities report his blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.15. Redding was flown to Sutter Roseville Hospital, where despite the best efforts of police, fire, ambulance, and hospital personnel, he died as a result of the injuries inflicted. “It’s such an irony that he would be killed by a drunken driver,” said Matthew Redding’s father, John. “This (suspect) has now changed our lives forever.”
John Redding said his son began to consider a criminal justice career as early as the eighth grade. By the time he got to college, Matt’s goal was to become a police officer for his hometown of Rocklin. “It was the proudest day of Matt’s life when his mother pinned his police stripes on his chest,” said Redding.
He was a local boy with a love of fishing, skiing, golfing, but even more for law enforcement. Officer Redding is described as larger than life, religious, and a terrific role model – especially for the youth of this close knit community. Rocklin’s Police Chief says everyone in the department was proud to work alongside the hard working, caring officer who had a special way with people. “Matt was so good with people, his Superior described him as being able to arrest half the city, only to have them come in, shake his hand and thank him,” said Rocklin Police Chief Mark Siemens.
On Friday, October 14th, over three thousand people including peace officers from around the state, crowded into Roseville’s Adventure Christian Church to pay their final respects. Redding’s flag-draped casket was watched over by an honor guard throughout the ceremony.
After a slide presentation featuring photos of Redding, Cpl. Eric Dollar of the Rocklin Police Department read the Policeman’s Prayer, “I don’t think I can do this,” he said, choking back tears. Haltingly he exchanged the word “policeman” with Redding’s first name in the poem’s last stanza. “Step forward now Matt, you’ve borne your burdens well,” Dollar read. “Come walk a beat on heaven’s street, you’ve done your time in hell.”
During the service, Chief Siemens announced that Governor Schwarzenegger’s office declared December of this year to be known as Redding Drunk Driving Awareness Month.
At the conclusion of the memorial service, law enforcement personnel saluted as they filed past the coffin, which was then led by a lone bagpiper to the church parking lot where helicopters honored Officer Redding with a flyover. A huge funeral procession passed through Rocklin streets and eventually reached Bayside Covenant Church in Granite Bay, where a reception was held.
Officer Matthew Redding was laid to rest during a private burial ceremony at Rocklin Cemetery. He is survived by his parents, John and Carolyn; brother, Mark; and girlfriend, Jessica Navarette.