Remembering Montgomery County (MD) Police Officer Hector Ismael Ayala

By Karen L. Bune

The first Hispanic police officer in the Montgomery County (MD) Police Department to die in the line of duty and the 16th in the department’s history, Officer Hector Ismael Ayala, ended his watch on Sunday, April 4, 2010. He succumbed to injuries sustained in a single vehicle crash of his cruiser that impacted a tree while he was responding to a call for officer assistance for a fight in progress at a local restaurant/bar.

Throughout his seven-year tenure on the department, Officer Ayala worked the midnight shift. In his jurisdiction, he was valued in the Hispanic community. Fluent in Spanish, Officer Ayala frequently served as a translator for the department and provided assistance to Hispanic community members. “The department has lost a true asset. Officer Ayala was always helpful to his fellow officers and devoted to serving the Hispanic community. He will be deeply missed,” District Commander Nancy Demme said.

Officer Ayala was a strong advocate for traffic safety and blazoned a trail for enforcing traffic laws in Montgomery County. One year alone, he issued 800 traffic citations, and he would take time to politely explain to the driver the nature of the violation.

In 2005, he was instrumental in helping to save a man’s life who was attempting to commit suicide by jumping from the roof of the Glenmont Metro Station. Officer Ayala, along with two of his colleagues, was able to prevent the man from actually jumping by physically subduing him. He spent his entire career working in the 4th District of the county and served as a Field Training Officer to new officer graduates. Throughout his career, he was nominated for several awards and commended for his exemplary work in the law enforcement sector.

Officer Ayala was well liked and respected by his colleagues. It was not unusual for him to offer to babysit the children of his colleagues when they had a circumstance arise and a need for his help. He also taught many of his recruits how to box since he was known to be a boxing enthusiast.

Married with a 14-month old son and triplets due in June, Officer Ayala is survived by his wife, Melissa, and his parents, Hector and Luz, a 20-year-old brother, Geovani, and a 12-year old sister, Jenny Marie.

“Officer Ayala gave his life doing what he loved–being a police officer serving the people of Montgomery County. A select few raise their right hand and take the oath of service, an oath that puts their life second to those they protect. Officer Ayala took his oath and served proudly since his first day at the academy,” said Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger.

The Washington Metropolitan region and the broader public safety community mourn the loss of Officer Ayala. Though his tour of duty ended too soon in life at too young an age, he made his mark in the profession. His proven record will serve as an inspiration to others in the field to be the best they can be, and his memory will never fade.
Karen L. Bune is employed as a Victim Specialist in the domestic violence unit of the State’s Attorney’s Office for Prince George’s County (MD). She serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at George Mason University in Fairfax (VA) and Marymount University in Arlington (VA), where she teaches victimology. Ms. Bune is a consultant for the Training and Technical Assistance Center for the Office for Victims of Crime and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U. S. Department of Justice. She is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on victim issues. Ms. Bune is Board Certified in Traumatic Stress and Domestic Violence, and she is a Fellow of The Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and the National Center for Crisis Management.