Flags were flying at half-staff Friday and a single bouquet of flowers was on top of the sign at the Hawthorne Police Department. Inside the lobby, there was makeshift memorial. Several bouquets of flowers, candles, a motorcycle and a uniform were placed in front of a photo of Officer Andrew Garton.
Garton, 44, a motorcycle officer, died while working the funeral procession for an officer from Manhattan Beach. Garton is the first officer to die while on duty in the department's 89 years.
In a show of fraternity, other police agencies in the area are providing manpower to Hawthorne Department so its staff and officers can be with Garton's family and assist in funeral arrangements. Officials are advising residents to not be alarmed if an officer from another station responds to a call.
Police Chief Robert Fager acknowledged that this is "unchartered territory" for this community but assured that they "will stand as a department and as a family" to work through the grief.
Condolences were posted on the department's Facebook page Friday. One commenter said, "I saw our police chief on the news. He said it all. A very sad day today for ALL of Hawthorne."
Garton was married with two sons, who are 7 and 12 years old. He is described by a co-worker as being friendly and dedicated, with a "wicked sense of humor."
Garton had been with Hawthorne for over seven years, serving the last four and a half years as both a motorcycle officer and a member of the special weapons team. He came to law enforcement later than most, attending the academy in his early thirties. His entire police career was spent with the Hawthorne Police Department.
The fatal crash happened at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, while officers from several local departments were working the procession, which was about 2 miles long.
Garton and the other officer involved in the crash were using the same radio frequency at the time of the crash.
The California Highway Patrol expects to complete its report in 90 days.
The other officer, Sgt. Rex Folwer from El Segundo, suffered a broken leg. He was released from the hospital on Friday.
The Hawthorne Police Department has established an account for Garton's family. Donations can be made via the Western Federal Credit Union at 14500 S. Aviation Blvd. in Hawthorne; or at the police station at 12501 S. Hawthorne Blvd. in Hawthorne.
Donations should be made out to: Officer Andrew Garton's Family, c/o HPOA, account number 654404-006.