The memorial service for Peoria police motorcycle officer Jason Judd, who died while on-duty July 1, honored a servant described by many as a family man, hard worker and teacher, using adjectives like selfless, compassionate and passionate.
He lived a life devoted to his country and his community, and prided himself on doing things right the first time.
In the end, many concurred: those who came to know Mr. Judd, or JJ as he was affectionately known by many, were greatly impacted.
His wife of nearly 10 years, Teresa, gave the eulogy at Christ’s Church of the Valley in front of around 100 people and hundreds others streaming online July 14.
She shared that her husband was patient, generous and steadfast in his faith to god and his love for the Lutheran church. He was the strength of his family, including sons Terry and Connor.
His legacy will live on through them, and he was the glue that held the family together, she said.
“Though Jason loved his community and the work he did with the police department, his heart was home with his family and I am confident the love he had for me, Terry and Connor will carry us through to the other side of our grief,” she said.
Mr. Judd, 52, was a 21-year veteran of the Peoria Police Department, with 17 of those years as a motorcycle officer.
Anyone who knew him, especially at work, knew he was passionate about motorcycles — traffic was his life, and he loved it so much that it trickled into his family life, Ms. Judd said.
His sense of humor and adherence to the rules were among the things she loved most about him.
“I can still remember the first time I did not have a complete cessation from movement at a stop sign. And he said, ‘ARS 28-855B.’ Or the time I was speeding and he pointed out that I had violated ARS 28-701A. But I think it is important for all the motorists here to know that my speed is always reasonable and prudent,” she said.
“There will forever be a void in my heart and my memory. My world as I loved it will never be the same. Before I met Jason, I never imagined I could love somebody as much as I loved him. He taught me how to love simply by how he loved me. He gave me confidence, strength and independence. Though our time together was much too short I will always be grateful for the years we did have together. I will hold onto my memories of him and carry him in my heart every day until we are united.”
Mr. Judd’s service included a riderless horse, 21-gun salute, Echo Taps, a U.S. Air Force and Peoria police flag folding presentation, a rendition of “Amazing Grace” with pipes and drums, as well as a fly-over.
He was the first Peoria police officer to die while on duty.
Officer Flin Alek spoke at the memorial on how Mr. Judd was competent at everything he did.
He would take it on his own initiative to work on the re-certification of radars, calibrations of patrol cars and new CAD software, all the while training others on these operations.
He said fellow police officers would bring up things that needed to be fixed on their automobiles and the next thing they knew, JJ was volunteering to fix the repairs.
“He got things done and worked hard — that was Mr. Jason Judd. We called him JJ. He always got the job done. He could fix his own car and fix yours too,” Mr. Alek said.
“JJ was always fixing the problem. He was the adult that made you feel safe. And if he couldn’t do it himself, he had a guy that could. He had a guy. JJ was our guy for just about everything, on- or off-duty. He made us all a little better.”
On July 1, Mr. Judd was involved in a single-motorcycle collision after completing a demonstration at the department’s Youth Citizen Police Academy at Liberty High School. Mr. Judd was taken by the Peoria Fire-Medical Department to a north Phoenix hospital, where he died from his injuries.
The crash is being investigated by the Glendale Police Department.
Motor officer Sgt. Kevin Tarrant said at the service that Mr. Judd was the best of the best and there was nothing he could not learn or do. He said Mr. Judd was the go-to guy in the motor unit — no matter how busy he was, if somebody came to him asking for help or advice, he would drop everything.
He loved being on the bike, and was always on a mission to make the motor unit and the department better. But Mr. Tarrant said it was bigger than that — he was born to ride a motorcycle, had a god-given talent to ride, and an uncanny ability to pass on riding knowledge.
“His enthusiasm was contagious,” Mr. Tarrant said. “JJ was instrumental in teaching many officers on the motor unit how to ride. I’m sure we tested JJ’s patience when we continuously crashed during motor school. But he never gave up on anyone. He would shake his head, smile that JJ smile he has, and keep pushing us to learn and become a better rider.”
Before joining the Peoria Police Department in 1999, Mr. Judd served nearly 12 years in the U.S. Air Force. During his time as a police officer, he received the Lifesaving Medal and more than 50 commendations from citizens, fellow officers, other agencies and community leaders.
One commendation letter from April of 2015 praised his actions, stating, in part, “He was constantly looking for ways to help.”
Department officials said this sentence serves as the hallmark for all Mr. Judd’s commendations.
He was also highly involved in community outreach programs that taught safety and encouraged youth participation in civic duty. Throughout his career, he took part in the annual Peoria Bike Rodeo, Youth Citizen’s Police Academy, multi-agency DUI enforcement campaigns, school safety presentations and Fourth of July celebrations at Lake Pleasant, to name a few.
His son, Terry, spoke about how his father always made time for his family, as well as how his father has always been and always will be his hero.
“He taught me respect, discipline and compassion. I can say without a doubt I would not be where I am in my life today if it was not for him,” Terry said.
“I remember calling him once to chat and catch up on things. Mid-conversation he said, ‘Can you hold on, son?’ I said sure no problem, only to figure out that I was not put on hold to listen to elevator music or for him to take another call. I was put on hold with his homemade hands-free system while he made a traffic stop. Turns out he would slide his phone into his helmet so nobody even knew he was on the phone. ... When he came back, I asked him if he was too busy. Do you want me to call you back? He said, ‘I am never too busy for you.’ He never wanted me to worry that I was interrupting him.”
Terry said his father set the bar remarkably high.
“And now in his physical absence, I feel it is my responsibility to meet his standards and attempt to set the bar higher," he said. "I love you dad. And until we meet again, like many people who miss you, I am going to do my best to make you proud.”
Mr. Judd is survived by his wife, two sons, extended family members, friends and many co-workers.
Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.