Overcome by emotion, Angelo Dugo bowed his head and put his face in his hands as he looked at the plaque dedicating the new Escalon Police Department facility to him. Standing behind, former Escalon Police Chief and now Mayor Walt Murken placed a comforting hand on one shoulder, while Dugo's grandson, Amador County Undersheriff  James Wegner, put a hand on the other.

The festivities on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009  marked the formal dedication of the recently completed police/recreation department building at 2040 McHenry Avenue. Many members of Dugo's family, community residents and  city officials turned out for the dedication.

With help from Wegner, who followed in his grandfather's footsteps into the law enforcement field, Dugo cut the ceremonial ribbon and then the plaque was unveiled. Following that, tours of the building were given.

Offering the welcome was Escalon Police Chief and interim City Manager Doug Dunford, who introduced council members, the architectural, design and construction team members, along with city employees who saw the project through from beginning to end. He then introduced Mayor Walt Murken, who outlined his history with the man of the hour. "He has dedicated the majority of his life to serving this community in one way or another," Murken said of Dugo. Working with the police department for many years, Dugo was a sergeant, and also spent time in combat in World War II as a Marine Corps photographer. He has been active in the local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts and many other community endeavors, including working with the Escalon Historical Society to provide historical photographs of the community.

"I had the pleasure of working with him as a young officer," Murken said. "Angelo was a great teacher for me, he taught the things they didn't teach you in the books ... things like the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law." Murken, who also got a bit choked up as he spoke of the man who served as his mentor, said dedicating the new police facility to him was "a fitting honor."

Taking a turn at the podium before helping his grandfather cut the ribbon, Wegner said it was an honor for the entire family to be at the ceremony and see the facility dedicated to him  "The family would like to thank the council, the mayor, the chief of police," he said.  "As a cop, I know how important it is to have a facility that allows for efficiency and effectiveness and pride.    " In a small town like this,  the pride is immeasurable."

Wegner added that Dugo "loves this town, loved being a cop here" and started a job that became a career and then became his identity. He also praised his grandfather for instilling in the family members "a set of core values" that include respect, compassion, service and honesty. "These values are guides to success," Wegner said.

Noting that the family couldn't be happier with the dedication, Wegner said thanks are owed to the community as well. "He's been our family patriarch. We always felt we shared him with the City, " Wegner said of Dugo.  "The city views him the same way."

At 92 years old, Dugo is now in a wheelchair and hard of hearing but very aware of the importance of the dedication.  "That's wonderful," he said of the ceremony and the building dedication.  " I knew I had a lot of friends here," he added with a smile,  "but I didn't know how many.

New Building Dedicated to Retired Sgt. Angelo Dugo

By Marg Jackson, Escalon Times