Members of the law enforcement community and the public joined together Thursday evening at the Sedalia Municipal Building to honor those members of the thin blue line killed in the line of duty. The 18th annual Peace Officer’s Memorial Ceremony held May 15 is part of National Police Week. May 11-17, 2014.
“We have been blessed here in Sedalia not to have suffered the loss of an officer,” said Sedalia Police Commander Larry Ward. “The state of Missouri has had very few, but any loss of life is worth honoring especially when they have given their life for their community and fellow officers. We think it’s very important to show up as a whole and put on our Sunday best to honor those men and women.”
The ceremony opened with bagpiper Maryann Marti playing Amazing Grace and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by Richard DeFord. The invocation was led by Chaplin Manny Rodriguez.
“Officers on every call, regardless of what it is, are putting their lives on the line every single day,” Rodriguez said. “Some of them have gone above and beyond the line of duty, laying their lives on the line for the community. It is appropriate that we should honor those who have fallen.”
Mayor Stephen Galliher read a proclamation honoring those men and women killed in the line of duty, the proclamation was followed by a twenty-one gun salute presented by the Sedalia Police Department Honor Guard and the playing of TAPS by Yeager Coen.
“These are the men and women that every day are outside of you door to protect you. They are the people on the front line that day and night keep us safe and watch out for us,” Galliher said.
Following the ceremony, Sedalia Police hosted an open house with refreshments and a slideshow of those killed in the line of duty.
According to the Officer Down Memorial page the last law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty in the state of Missouri was Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Parsons. In the early morning hours of Dec. 15, 2012, Parsons was assisting an EMS call when a lone gunman hiding in the shadows shot and killed him.
In the U.S in 2014 there have been 42 officers killed in the line of duty. The majority of those deaths, 16, were by gunfire. Automobile accidents accounted for 10 deaths, vehicular assault accounted for three, pursuits took the lives of two officers, and heart attacks accounted for three. Other causes were assault, fire, and accidental gunfire. In 2013 there were 105 officers killed in the line of duty.
President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. According to the Fraternal Order of Police, The Memorial Service began in 1982 as a gathering in Senate Park of approximately 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement.