Kevin Cody

Manhattan Beach remembers Martin Ganz, first police officer lost in line of duty

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Manhattan Beach Lieutenant and Baptist Minister Ryan Small reads from the book of Corinthians at the Martin Ganz Memorial. Photo by Kevin Cody

by Kevin Cody

Manhattan Beach Police Captain Tim Hageman recalled the first time he met Manhattan Beach Police Officer Martin Ganz.

“I had made a lateral transfer from another department and was walking in the door to the Manhattan department for the first time. An officer approached me and said, “Are you Hageman. I’m Martin.”

“I was the new guy and wasn’t expecting that kind of welcome,” Hageman said. “But I knew then I’d made the right decision.”

Hagemen’s comments came during the 25th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony for Martin Ganz , held Thursday evening at a packed Joslyn Center in Manhattan Beach. Ganz was fatally shot following a traffic stop at the Manhattan Village Mall on Dec. 27, 1993. He was 29 and a five-year veteran of the department.

“I was asleep on Walnut Avenue when I heard sirens. So I got up and followed the sirens to Manhattan Village, where officers told me Martin had been killed. He was the first Manhattan officer to die in the line of duty. Our sense of peace was forever shattered,” Manhattan Beach Mayor Steve Napolitano told the gathering. At the time Napolitano was 27, serving his first term as mayor.

“Memorial services were held at American Martyrs Church because it was the only church in town big enough. After the services, I saw a sight I hope I never see again, at least not under the same circumstances. As the funeral procession moved north on Highland the sidewalks filled with people,” Napolitan said.

Manhattan Police Chief Derrick Abell tried to lighten the mood by recalling how Ganz would wolf down two foot-long subway sandwiches and then send a 1031 radio call to fellow officers. It meant to meet him at the 31 Flavors on 10th Street.”

Chief Abell said Ganz was so determined to become a police officer that he didn’t wait for a department to sponsor him at the Police Academy, but instead paid his own. When he joined the Manhattan Beach department in September 1989, he immediately volunteered for the DARE program and put together a Woody Woodpecker coloring book to use in teaching kids about the dangers of drugs.

His favorite duty was as a motorcycle officer. Abbell said Ganz made more drunk driving arrests than any other officer.

Janet Ganz, one of Ganz’s five older sister, said her brother wanted to become a police officer since at least 10th grade when he became a police explorer in the family’s hometown of Garden Grove. He made her help him memorize all of the radio call numbers.

Pam Schultz, Ganz’s fiancee at the time of his death, said when, as a court clerk, she had to swear him in, he would cross his eyes to make her flub her lines.

Schultz vowed after Ganz’s death to make sure he is never forgotten. Each year, on Dec. 27, at 11 p.m., the time he was killed, Schutz visits the Manhattan Village parking lot where he was killed.

Following the Joslyn Center memorial, the Los Angeles Police Department Emerald Society bagpipe band and the Manhattan Beach Police Color Guard led a procession to the Ganz Memorial next to Live Oak Park. The memorial features a bronze casting of Ganz’s police motorcycle helmet.

As flowers were laid on the granite base of the memorial, Manhattan Police Lieutenant and Baptist minister Ryan Small, read from the Book of Corinthians: O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting… Thanks be to God who gives us victory [over death] through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ER

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