Peoria police said an officer has died after crashing his motorcycle while leaving a youth citizen academy demonstration at Liberty High School.
The incident happened around 11 a.m. Wednesday near 91st Avenue and Deer Valley Road.
Police said Officer Jason W. Judd was at Liberty performing a demonstration as part of the department's yearly Youth Citizen Police Academy. After the demonstration was over, the students went inside a building and Mr. Judd prepared to leave.
"We're not really sure what happened but at some point, the motorcycle came out from under him and he crashed, and at that point he was injured," Officer Brandon Sheffert said at a press conference outside HonorHealth Deer Valley Medical Center in Phoenix.
Other officers on scene called for help, and the Peoria Fire-Medical Department responded and transported Mr. Judd to the hospital.
At the press conference, Chief Arthur Miller said Mr. Judd died around 11:30 a.m.
"Today is a tough day for Peoria PD," said Mr. Miller, who joined the department in 2018. "I believe all of our personnel at the Peoria Police Department are the finest. Jason was one of our finest of the finest."
The 52-year-old Judd is a 21-year veteran of the department, having served 17 years in the motor unit. He is survived by his children and wife Teresa Judd — who works with the Surprise Police Department. He was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Miller said.
"We are definitely grieving here today in Peoria," Mr. Miller stated. "I want to thank all of the agencies that have offered support."
Natalie Reilly, who shot to national fame due to her first responders-based "Nothing But Love Notes," which started in Peoria, offered her condolences on Mr. Judd's death.
"The last thing I ever expected from Love Notes was to come into such a close-knit community of first responders," Ms. Reilly stated on Facebook. "I spent a lot of time with our Peoria Police Department and, so, when the calls and text messages started rolling in this afternoon, it hit especially close to home. As many as we lose every year, losing an Officer never gets easier. It only gets harder to understand. God bless our men and women in Blue... and God bless Officer Jason Judd."
A procession for Mr. Judd from the hospital to the medical examiner's office occurred Wednesday afternoon.
The Glendale Police Department is aiding Peoria police with the investigation of the collision.
Mr. Judd's death appears to be the first on-duty death for the Peoria Police Department. The Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks law enforcement deaths across the nation, doesn't list any for the department.
The 100 Club of Arizona has set up a page for people to donate in honor of Mr. Judd. The mission of the 100 Club of Arizona is to provide immediate assistance to the families of fallen or injured public safety officers and firefighters in Arizona and to provide resources to enhance their safety and welfare.
"Our thoughts and hearts are with the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Judd and the Peoria Police Department," the 100 Club's page states. "You can support Officer Judd's family by donating to The 100 Club of Arizona's Survivor Fund. Whether you donate $5 or $500, every little bit helps."
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags at all state buildings be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset Thursday, July 2.
“Arizona mourns the tragic loss of Peoria Police Officer Jason Judd,” Mr. Ducey stated. “A 21-year veteran of the Peoria Police Department, Officer Judd put his life on the line every day to keep Arizonans safe. Our prayers are with his family, loved ones and fellow officers. To honor Officer Judd’s life and service, I have ordered flags at all state buildings be lowered to half-staff.”