Rocklin remembers a hometown hero

Legacy of officer Matt Redding lives on in Run Rocklin
By: Teresa O'Hanlon, Placer Herald Correspondent
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It’s how Rocklin residents remember his dream. They tie up their laces to pound the ground by the thousands to remember him. For some it’s a swift walk. Others will jog. Participants of all ages each year swell the streets to Run Rocklin to pay tribute to the young police officer who gave up everything for his community. “It’s really hard to put into words because there are so many reasons we should never forget Matt,” observed Rocklin Police Officer Eric Dollar, who knew Rocklin Police Officer Matt Redding as a dear friend. “He should be remembered because he made the ultimate sacrifice — his life — protecting other officers and the city of Rocklin,” Dollar continued. “A drunk driver thought he could drive that night and killed a wonderful man and ruined his own life at the same time, not to mention the impact on families and the community.” Redding was killed by an intoxicated hit-and run-driver while on duty in 2005. Rocklin’s favorite son was a decorated police officer working long nights to protect his community. “The Kid,” as fellow officers called the youthful public servant, dedicated his days to SWAT Team training, firearms instruction, and court prosecutions. Redding became the mold for a template so many residents yearn to reproduce. “When we lost him a lot of people said to me, ‘How do you build a Matt Redding?’” recalled his father, John. “How do you take a young person and turn him into such a large presence wherever he goes?” Matt’s parents, John and Marilyn Redding, survive on memories of their son in a nurturing community. When their firstborn entered Spring View Middle School and joined Tri-City Little League the quiet, focused student embraced his teachers, a love of art, and baseball. At age 16, Matt Redding became a courtesy clerk at Bel Air Supermarket. “His smile expressed who he really was: a genuine, caring, true beautiful person,” shared Produce Clerk Jackie McKee. Head Clerk Johnny Barlow remembers Redding’s efficiency. “He was just fun and energetic and, oh my, always cool and calm,” he reminisced. “Matt easily got promoted to deli clerk.” After graduating from Del Oro High School in 1994, Redding pitched baseball for Sierra College. Following his 2001 graduation from Butte Police Academy, Redding’s dream of serving on Rocklin’s police force became a reality. Redding became well-known in the community and residents out late would look for him on the night shift. Even arrestees taken in under Badge 215 could never forget how they found their soul in the back seat of a patrol car. “People have written letters saying they thank the Lord it was Matt who arrested them because they got their lives turned around that night,” wept his father. “Matt would listen. He had that smile. He treated these people with respect.” Redding earned the Life Saving Effort Award in 2003 after saving a car accident victim’s life by lifting up the side of the vehicle allowing the victim to breathe as firefighters secured the scene. Mothers Against Drunk Driving presented Redding with the MADD Award for making the most drunk-driving arrests in 2004. Redding also received the Bronze Medal of Honor, yet remained humble. “Once the SWAT Team was sitting in a restaurant and Matt had them hold hands and say a prayer before they ate,” remembered Marilyn Redding. “The waitress came over and asked what they all did for a living and Matt had her guess and she said, ‘You’re youth ministers.’ When he told her that they were police officers she could not believe it.” Redding’s parents shared such memories with former President George W. Bush at a personal meeting to honor their son’s service and sacrifice. Redding’s legacy as an officer is being perpetuated through the Matt Redding Memorial Scholarship Foundation to support students in pursuit of an education in protective services. With the success of Run Rocklin and the Matt Redding Annual Memorial Golf Tournament, the Redding family has set up an endowment at Sierra College and continues to support graduating seniors from Rocklin, Whitney, and Del Oro High Schools and William Jessup University. They also helped two young men through the police academy. “It’s wonderful how Matt’s family is supporting students who are focused on public safety as Matt devoted his life to helping others,” shared Maka Pennell, a scholarship recipient working towards a biomedical engineering major at U.C. Irvine. Run Rocklin Race Director Larry Osborne attributes the popularity of the annual event to Officer Redding’s great calling. “It’s about the legacy of Matt and his foundation to benefit Rocklin kids,” he related. “You see it every year. Even those who may not typically enter such an event — in those last three or four days before the race historically a whole bunch of participation just shows up. People come together because they believe in the cause.”