Dick Augusta has received two medals of which he is very proud. In 2014 the retired California Highway Patrol officer was awarded the American Police Hall of Fame Purple Heart Medal for a bullet wound he sustained while on patrol in East County in 1977.
Recently, on Jan. 29, members of the California Highway Patrol, California State Assemblyman Jim Frazier and the Warriors Watch Riders went one step further, inducting Augusta into the National Police Hall of Fame.
Both honors stem from what happened at 1:30 a.m. on May 29, 1977.
CHP Officer Dick Augusta and his partner, Darrell Todd, were on routine patrol in Contra Costa County. They conducted a stop on a car weaving across the centerline.
During questioning, a male exited the car and shot Augusta twice at close range. Since CHP officers did not wear bulletproof vests at that time, one of the bullets punctured his left kidney and struck near his spinal cord. Augusta recovered but was forced to medically retire because of the permanent injuries he sustained.
For the Jan. 29 induction, Augusta was treated to full honors. Organized by John Frasen, CHP Public Affairs Officer, that included a CHP escort from Augusta's house to the Contra Costa County office.
"The escort was three patrol cars and flagged motorcycles driven by members of the Warrior Watch Riders organization from Northern California. My son, Vince Augusta, retired from Antioch Police Department after more than 20 years, and I rode together in the lead patrol car," Augusta said. "It was a great day and an honor for me."
At the Hall of Fame induction State Assemblyman Jim Frazier from the 11th District read the Assembly resolution while friends and relatives in the audience listened.
The Hall of Fame National Awards Program was started more then 40 years ago to fill the void of recognition for worthy American law enforcement officers and improve officer morale. Only a handful of officers are inducted each year from the more than 800,000 in the United States.
Augusta is proud of receiving the Purple Heart and Hall of Fame medals, believing he defied the odds by surviving being shot. He was in the hospital for a month and took a year to heal from the bullet wound.
Beyond himself, he sees recognitions such as these as important because they testify to the courage officers display when dealing with routine or unusual occurrences. He admitted that coming back after being shot was very hard.
"There aren't too many who sustain a bullet wound like I did and live to tell about it," he said. "Many don't want to admit it but post traumatic stress disorder is a powerful event."
Post traumatic stress disorder and high numbers of officer suicides led Augusta and Andy O'Hare to co-found Badge of Life Mental Health Program in 2011, a nonprofit organization whose cornerstone is a new approach to police suicide prevention.
Made up of active and retired law enforcement officers, medical professionals and surviving families of suicides from the United States and Canada, the organization advocates being seen by a private mental health professional as a way of taking charge of personal health and emotional well being and undergoing Emotional Self-Care Training.
Though Augusta is not as involved as he was previously, due to family health issues, he strongly advocates the usefulness of the organization.
Dick Augusta was gravely injured in his role as a CHP officer but he did more than just survive, he tried to find a way to help other law enforcement officers who have undergone traumatic events and are living with PTSD.
"Jim Frazier told me, You survived because your calling was needed,' so it was nice to be inducted into the Hall of Fame," Augusta said. "Recognition is always nice; it's not necessary, but it's always nice. Law enforcement is a dangerous job and the element of surprise is always on the side of the people you stop."