BERKELEY — The Berkeley Police Department posted the following remembrance on Facebook on Aug. 20.
Today is the 50-year anniversary of the End of Watch for Berkeley PD Officer Ronald Tsugio Tsukamoto. He was 28 years old and had only been with the Berkeley Police Department for 11 months. He had been raised by his family in a World War II internment camp and grew up locally. He was newly married and was the first Japanese American police officer in Berkeley, and his death — the first ever on the Berkeley force.
On Aug. 20, 1970, at approximately 1 a.m., Ofc. Tsukamoto stopped a motorcyclist for a traffic violation at University Avenue and McGee Street. Ofc. Tsukamoto decided not to issue the man a citation and they struck up a friendly conversation about politics and the Vietnam War. Soon after, another man showed up and joined the conversation. Without provocation, the second man pulled out a gun and fatally shot Ofc. Tsukamoto through his right eye and fled to a waiting vehicle.
In 2000 the Berkeley Police Department moved to 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way and named the new building “The Ronald Tsukamoto Public Safety Building.”
After Officer Tsukamoto’s death, a scholarship fund was started in his name. The Ronald T. Tsukamoto Memorial Fund provides scholarships to college students pursuing a career in law enforcement in need of financial assistance. In his memory, the scholarship award was established and, at the Tsukamoto family’s request, is administered and awarded jointly by the Northern California Asian Police Officers Association (NCAPOA) and Ronald Tsukamoto Memorial Fund. https://ncapoa.org/?page_id=159
It is important to remember Ronald Tsugio Tsukamoto, his life, his sacrifice and how he inspired those around him.
According to the department, on May 25, 2004, a suspect in Tsukamoto’s murder was arrested, but was released after the Alameda County District Attorney decided there was not enough evidence to charge him.