Berkeley police officer Michael Godinez died unexpectedly in his home while off-duty July 22 at the age of 24.
Born and raised in Southern California, Godinez found his love for running when he joined the cross-country and track teams at Santa Fe High School. After graduation, he went on to attend the California State University Maritime Academy.
Determined to make a difference in the world, Godinez then spent 18 months traveling across the country while working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Alta Joseph, Godinez’s team leader during his time in FEMA Corps, said on a GoFundMe fundraiser for Godinez’s funeral expenses that Godinez was a hard worker who always showed up with a positive attitude.
“He was very serious about helping others,” Joseph said in the GoFundMe post. “He was also funny and an exemplary member of my team. I’m going to miss him.”
After working for FEMA, Godinez decided to join the police academy and spent eight months training and interviewing for the Berkeley police force. As a new hire, Godinez was still in the field training program at the time of his death.
Alameda County Sgt. Joshua Hinckley, one of Godinez’s recruit training officers, said in an email that the training staff at the county sheriff’s Regional Training Center had recognized Godinez’s work ethic and “go getter” attitude early on.
“Michael was always one of the first to volunteer when there was a job to be accomplished, no matter how big or small the job was,” Hinckley said in the email. “Michael truly cared about those around him and always put others above himself.”
Hinckley added that although Godinez was only able to work in Berkeley for a short time, he genuinely wanted to make a difference in the community and would have made a huge positive impact on the citizens he would have served.
Sentiments about Godinez’s bright demeanor were also expressed at his mass, which was held Monday morning at Christ the King Church in Pleasant Hill.
At the funeral, pastor Paulson Mundanmani read aloud some words from Godinez’s mother, Patricia, and his godmother, Michelle Lee.
“Once Michael was accepted into the academy, his grandma asked him if he liked it. And his response was, ‘I love it. This is all I want to do.’ ” Mundanmani said on behalf of his mother.
According to the words from Lee, Godinez was asked to write something for his obituary while in the academy. He wrote, “I live, I love, I die.”