June 10, 2010 (El Cajon) -- Agent Richard Agundez, who won the Medal of Valor for his heroic efforts to stop the Granite Hills High School shooting, will retire tomorrow after 30 years of service with the El Cajon Police Department. He is one of the Department’s most highly decorated officers.
Agundez began his his career with ECPD in 1979 as a cadet when he was 19 years old. He worked as a reserve officer until he was hired as a police officer on December 10th, 1981 by then Police Chief Darwin Sinclair. He attended the 8th Regional Academy at Miramar College.
During his years with El Cajon, Agent Agundez has worked under seven different Police Chiefs including current Police Chief Pat Sprecco. His assignments over the years include patrol, traffic in both an enforcement car and on a motorcycle, community Policing as the first D.A.R.E. officer with the department, and he served as the City’s first school resource officer. He was promoted to the rank of aent in September of 2000. He was a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics team (S.W.A.T.) from 1992 through 1999. He was also assigned the role of Acting Sergeant for different divisions, as needed.
During his career, Agent Agundez responded to major incidents, such as the Family Fitness shooting, the Key Largo incident, the Santana High School shooting, and the Granite Hills High School shooting, along with several S.W.A.T missions. His act of heroism in stopping the Granite Hills High School shooting has earned him numerous awards.
On March 22, 2001, Agent Agundez was on duty as a school resource officer assigned to Granite Hills High School, just three weeks after the deadly Santana High School shooting. 18-year-old Jason Hoffman opened fire on the principal’s and vice principal’s offices, wounding five.
The National Latino Peace Officers Award, which honored him as its 2001 Officer of the Year, recalled the heroic actions of Arundez, who responded to the sounds of gunfire and quickly disabled the suspect: “A gunfight ensued, during which Hoffman was seriously wounded in the face and body. Subsequent investigation found a round from Agent Agundez' pistol also hit and disabled the shotgun that Hoffman had used to wound others. Agent Agundez, Jr. saved the lives of many students and staff. He is honored for his bravery, valor, and commitment to the people he serves.” Agundez is former president of the San Diego County Chapter of the NLPOA; he was previously named SWAT Officer of the Year (1998), Officer of the Year (1999) , and received a Life Saving Award and two Meritorious Service Awards for his community work with youth, NLPOA noted.
Police Chief Pat Sprecco said Agundez “has served with distinction in many assignments and is the recipient of many awards including the Medal of Valor. In addition to his exemplary work history, his outstanding record of volunteering in the community has earned him the respect of the department and the community alike. We all wish him well in his retirement.”
Agent Agundez’ contributions to the community include volunteering as a football coach at El Cajon Valley High School for the past six years, serving as advisor for the department’s D.A.R.E. Spirit All Star Cheer Team for three years, as a board member of Stoney’s Kids, as well as a member and past President of the San Diego County Chapter of the National Latino Peace Officers Association, and he served on the El Cajon Police Officers Associations (ECPOA) board.
Agundez reflected, "It has been an honor to work for the department all of these years.” He added, “Every opportunity was given to me, which made me the officer I became. We have a cutting edge department with a reputation for the excellent work that we do all around. We have a department with integrity second to none in my opinion. I am sad for leaving the folks that I work with. I will miss the brotherhood and the uniform. But it has been a great run. God has blessed me all of these years with what I feel was a mission to help those that would take it. More sad stories than good, but the good stories are great!"
What does this very active officer plan to do after retirement, which starts on his 50th birthday? He plans to get some well-deserved rest, de-stress, and buy a new car. He hopes to find a job teaching traffic related classes, such as traffic school or driving instruction. He also plans to get a personal trainer to “get in shape”, according a press release issued by the City.