It was a day Dinuba Police Chief Ed Hernandez hoped he would never have to face. A day when one of his officers, who died in the line-of-duty, was to be buried.
“As police chief this is one of the things that’s in the back of my mind that I hoped I’d never have to do,” said Hernandez in his eulogy of Dinuba Reserve Police Officer Ron Hills.
Officer Hills died while on duty August 5, 1992. He was rushing to help another officer attempt to capture three fleeing thieves when his patrol car crashed into a power pole. The three thieves had taken a couple of packs of beer from a local market.
Hills, 35, was the first Dinuba officer to die in the line-of-duty in the history of the department.
Hills, a two-year veteran of the Dinuba force, was working as a level-one reserve officer for the department, doing the job of a regular sworn officer at the time of his death.
Hernandez remembered Hills for his hard work, his positive image in the community as a police officer, and his taking the time to care.
Hernandez noted that one thing that stood out about Officer Hills was that people liked him, projecting what Hernandez likes to see in his officers, a positive image of taking the time to talk with people and caring for them.
Hernandez said that he had been at the Dinuba Burger King following Hill’s death when he noticed that all the employees were wearing black ribbons on their uniforms. When Hernandez questioned one employee about why they were wearing the ribbons, he answered, “Because we cared for Ron Hills, he took the time; we’ll always remember that Ron took the time.”
Hernandez said the Burger King workers had also put up two signs that read, “Enthusiasm and professionalism marked his watch; now with his Maker, he carries on – in memory of Officer Ron Hills.”
Before Chief Hernandez spoke, the Rev. Paul Wilson of the First Baptist Church of Farmersville remembered Hills as a husband and a father. “Ron left a legacy behind, folks; Ron will be missed.” Wilson stated, “Today we’ve gathered together as a community and as fellow officers to remember, as well as the family, the memory of Ronald Hills. His dedication to his family and his dedication to the community since he was one of our public servants.
“As a grateful community we want to say thank you to Ron for the many years of faithful service to us and yet at the same time we have to say that no greater love has a man than he’ll lay down his life for his community.”
Officer Hills was born in Toledo, Ohio. He later attended schools in Omaha, Nebraska. He moved to Farmersville in 1986. On Sept. 12, 1991, he married Mary Lawrence in Exeter.
Officer Hills was a criminology major at College of the Sequoias. He had worked as a reserve officer for the City of Dinuba for the last two years. The last four months Hills was filling a regular shift slot with the police department.
He was active with the Dinuba Police Explorer Scouts.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Hills of Farmersville; a stepson and step-daughter, and four step-grandchildren.
“Enthusiasm and professionalism marked his watch; now with his Maker, he carries on – in memory of Officer Ron Hills.”