Retired California police officer offers special free service: specially tailored honor bands memorializing slain officers

You may have noticed that the honor bands for four brave HPD officers who made the ultimate sacrifice were like the resulting memorial service – something very special and memorable.

Instead of a plain black-taped covering the custom-made elastic band contained the badge number of Fox Officer Jason Knox and the names of the three sergeants HPD lost in the past 12 months – Chris Brewster, Harold Preston, and Sean Rios.

Honor Band Inspiration

“I couldn’t put the badge number on the band,” Laura Tartaglione said from her Pasadena, California, home. “Sergeants in HPD don’t have badge numbers, so I wrote their names on the bands.”

Now what kind of police-loving citizen would graciously perform the task of printing and “manufacturing” at least 3,000 honor bands to memorialize four officers killed in the line of duty for the citizens of Houston?

Without a charge – and not even requiring compensation for the $100 overnight shipping cost needed for delivery before the memorial service?

A retired California police officer, that’s who!

Tartaglione served a total of 25 years with policing agencies, including Long Beach PD, before her retirement seven years ago.

When an officer retires, he or she sometimes stays inspired by experiences on the beat or what happened to partners or close friends on the department.

Tartaglione recalled what happened to a young LBPD officer and what she did to make his memorial service extra special. He was only 22 and had been on the department less than a year. He died of a heart attack during SWAT training exercises.

Rather than the routine black band over the badge, Officer Tartaglione designed a special band with his badge number. She hand-sewed the special issues.

“When I retired, I started Honor Bands – the black bands we can put on a badge. I thought how cool if we could put an officer’s badge number on it,” she explained.

She went through several processes entailing a silk screen process, eventually graduating to special devices with an appropriate app on a computer to print the badge number – or sergeant’s name – on a black elastic band.

Familiarity breeds appreciation. Tartaglione, who retired with the rank of police corporal, first got to know HPOU 3rd Vice President Tom Hayes a year ago at the end of watch of HPD Sgt. Chris Brewster after Dec. 7, 2019.

She gets immediate “officer down” updates and uses police connections all over the country to contact the appropriate people to see if they want her free service – providing the specially tailored honor bands.

Her first Texas experience was the July 7, 2016 ambush of five Dallas police officers. From contacts made through that experience the retired corporal learned the best route was through the Houston police chief’s office. She was promptly referred to HPOU and Sgt. Hayes.

“I had no idea what they expect after speaking with Laura briefly the day after Chris Brewster’s murder,” Hayes remembered. “The bands arrived the following day with a second shipment a day later.

“The bands were well received by the membership. She never asked for anything other than the name or badge number of the fallen officer. Following the deaths of Knox, Preston and Rios, she contacted me before I even thought to reach out to Honor Bands.

“It’s always remarkable when someone reaches out to offer support and it truly comes from the heart.”

Making Donations

The Badge & Gun has learned that this dedicated police servant doesn’t push the departments she serves for expenses of any kind. She merely asks for the number of honor bands needed. Then she puts her three special printing machines into high gear. For HPOU she manufactured 1,500 to send to Hayes one day and 1,500 to overnight to him the next day – all in time for use well before the officers’ memorial services.

No bill. No invoice. No carrying charges. No shipping expense obligation.

It should not be a surprise that HPOU has come through with contributions each of the last four times of need. Tartaglione accepts donations but does not push the issue.

“This is a labor of love,” she explained. “The arson investigator was the first firefighter I’ve done. I’m now doing honor badges for firefighters killed in the line of duty. My son is a paramedic who works overtime firefighting jobs in this area.”

She was referring to HFD Arson Investigator Lemuel Bruce who died Oct. 17 in a shootout during an arson investigation.

There’s good reason to believe Tartaglione is becoming a household name around departments across the nation. She estimates that over the seven-plus years she has provided the honor band service she has manufactured more than one million bands.

Her work and dedication do not stop with “regular” honor bands.

She has a special way of making honor bands for cloth badges on certain uniforms.

She can make wristbands “sometimes for family members.”

And she makes bands to “take to our local airport to give to the airport police. When the caskets of our fallen military come home, the airport police have their own private honor guard service at the airport before the body is released to the family. The officers wear the appropriate band on their badges.”

Tartaglione does not have too many spare dollars. There are two ways officers, or their family members can make donations. Either send a check to Honor Bands, Box 2216 Monrovia, Calif. 91017 or go to the website honorbands.net and click on the donation link.