Saddleridge Fire: Beloved Park Ranger Who Died Of Heart Attack Remembered For Compassion For Homeless People

Albert Torres poses with Bruce Schwartz, center, and another member of the Pacific Palisades homelessness task force. (Courtesy of Rusty Redican)

L.A. is mourning the loss of a beloved Park Ranger who died of a heart attack Saturday after patrolling parks near the Saddleridge fire.

Captain Alberto "Albert" Torres was a 40-year veteran known for his compassionate treatment of homeless people.

LAPD officer Rusty Redican, who worked on a homelessness task force in Pacific Palisades with Torres since 2016, said Torres' death is "a devastating loss to the city ... Albert was about the most genuine human being that you could ever hope to don a uniform."

Albert Torres, second from right, working in the Pacific Palisades bluffs with LAPD officers including Rusty Redican, center. (Courtesy of Rusty Redican)

"He genuinely cared not only about the land that he was in charge of, but just the people that were using that land" — whether it was families enjoying the park on a weekend or the homeless people who found refuge there, Redican added.

Torres revolutionized the way law enforcement interacted with people living in parks, Redican said, preaching to the police that instead of issuing tickets to homeless people, "You have to take time to build a rapport, build a relationship with them. And that's where guys like Albert really shined.

Torres helped many homeless people move out of parks and into shelters.

Bruce Schwartz of Pacific Palisades grew close with Torres from their work together on a homelessness task force.

Torres' compassion won him fans all over the city. Friends of Griffith Park, the L.A. Airports police union and L.A City Attorney Mike Feuer offered condolences on social media after his passing.

"I guarantee you, you'll find people from one end of the city to the other that this guy touched," Schwartz said. "He had to go to parks from one side of L.A down in the harbor all the way out to Chatsworth and in between."

According to the L.A Park Rangers, Torres worked in every park in the city over the course of his career.

Those who knew him said no problem was too big or small — from helping the Girl Scouts to dealing with the challenges that arose with homelessness in affluent hill communities.

"Having Albert involved made everything that much better," Redican said. "You knew the issues were going to get sorted out, because he was just a true professional."

"The guy was just a treasure," said Pat Bates with the Audubon Society. "Sometimes I'd just call him and he'd be up to his neck in weeds... he'd still have a conversation with you."

Torres' compassion won him fans all over the city. Friends of Griffith Park, the L.A. Airports police union and L.A City Attorney Mike Feuer offered condolences on social media after his passing.

"He was always upbeat and always willing to roll up his sleeves and help," the City Attorney's office said in a Facebook post. "What an incredible public service legacy for Los Angeles."

In another post, L.A City Councilwoman Nury Martinez called Torres "the epitome of what it means to be a public servant."

Torres also mentored younger Park Rangers — which gives Rusty Redican hope for the future.

"Someone's going to grab that torch and hopefully do him proud," he said.

Redican said he's not just a better police officer, he's a better man for knowing Torres.

Torres was 67. He is survived by his wife Cheryl Torres, daughter Elizabeth and son Brian.