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Local cops lead way to Long Beach Jon Campbell | Fri, Jun 04 2010 11:58 AM

Police officers from Chula Vista, National City and other law enforcement agencies in the county set out en masse for a unique assignment Tuesday. Carrying a torch bound for the opening ceremony of this year's Special Olympics, a team of officers left from the Chula Vista Police headquarters on a relay that will take them through the entire county.

Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano said it's never hard to find officers willing to volunteer for the run.

"Chula Vista Police Department and San Diego County law enforcement have been participating for about 20 years. It's all about teaming up with Special Olympics and the community to raise awareness and, most importantly, funds to make sure that they continue to have the Special Olympics every year," said Bejarano.

And running isn't the only way officers pitch in, said Bejarano. In another program to benefit Special Olympics, officers work for tips in area restaurants and donate the proceeds to the organization.

"They'll be busing tables and whatever someone wants to give - five dollars, ten dollars - it all goes to the athletes," said Bejarano, who stressed that the officers are off duty when they're serving up food.

Officers participating in the fundraiser will run the torch north to the county line before handing it off to Orange County agencies.

Teresa Contreras, a Special Olympics volunteer who helped coordinate the event, said the partnership with law enforcement, now in its 18th year, helped get the word out about the Special Olympics games. Even in the summer heat, she said, the officers are willing to make a sacrifice.



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