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Juneau honors fallen law enforcement officers

Law Enforcement Memorial Week began Friday in Alaska

Posted: May 13, 2012 - 11:03pm
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Juneau Police Officers salute as Thane Reishus-O'Brien plays Taps during a memorial ceremony for fallen officers at Evergreen Cemetery on Friday. The Capital City Chapter of the Alaska Peace Officers Association sponsored the wreath-laying in honor of Police Officer Memorial Week.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Juneau Police Officers salute as Thane Reishus-O'Brien plays Taps during a memorial ceremony for fallen officers at Evergreen Cemetery on Friday. The Capital City Chapter of the Alaska Peace Officers Association sponsored the wreath-laying in honor of Police Officer Memorial Week.

One week out of the year probably isn’t enough.

Still, Friday marked the first day of Alaska’s Law Enforcement Memorial Week and the weekend before the start of National Police Week, and Juneau came together to remember police officers and law enforcement members who have died in the line of duty.

“One week out of the year probably isn’t enough,” said Frank Bonadonna, a special agent with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the law enforcement branch of NOAA. “For the things that they do for us just kind of selflessly automatically, without thinking.”

The Capital City Chapter of the Alaska Peace Officer Association hosted a memorial service at Evergreen cemetery, where a wreath was placed on the grave of Richard James Adair.

Adair, 51, was shot and killed alongside Jimmy E. Kennedy, 32, in 1979. They are two of four Juneau police officers who have died in the line of duty.

“We can’t ever forget people like Rick Adair because if we do then as a society then we are really kind of abandoning ourselves,” Bonadonna said. Bonadonna is an APOA member who coordinated this year’s events.

JPD Chaplain Sam Dalin said a prayer and two high school students played Taps, while a line of uniformed police officers and about 10 bystanders and firefighters braved the blustery winds and rain.

Later Friday evening, APOA hosted a second ceremony at Thunder Mountain High School to further commemorate the fallen.

The names and pictures of officers who died flashed across a projection screen throughout the ceremony.

APOA Vice President Sara Hieb told the crowd in her opening remarks 166 officers died in the line of duty nationwide last year.

So far this year, that number is 36.

“Your presence here today not only honors the thousands of officers nationwide that have made the ultimate sacrifice and the dozens of officers around our state that have unselfishly given their lives for our safety,” Hieb said. “It also shows our support for the current Juneau police officers, Alaska State troopers, and federal law enforcement officers that every day risk life and limb in order to make our community as safe and secure place to live and raise our families.”

The guest speaker, Sgt. Will Cragun of the Ogden, Utah, Police Department, spoke about officers he has lost in his department. Cragun is one of the JPD SWAT team trainers.

Cragun said police officers never know when and where danger may be lurking, but still put their lives on the line.

“Alaska is strong because you make her safe,” Cragun said.

Bagpipes played “Amazing Grace,” and a benediction was given.

Joseph Masters, the Department of Public Safety Commissioner, spoke on behalf of Gov. Sean Parnell, who could not make the event.

Masters read the proclamation Parnell made on May 2, declaring May 11-18 Law Enforcement Memorial Week in Alaska.

It read:

WHEREAS, Alaska’s law enforcement officers are critical to keeping our communities safe, and building a stronger, safer future for Alaska; and

WHEREAS, given the challenges of geography and isolation within our state, Alaska’s law enforcement officers are not only the first line of defense against crime, but are often the first responders to any kind of emergency situation, frequently going beyond their regular duties in fulfilling their mission to serve and protect; and

WHEREAS, Alaska’s law enforcement agencies share a dedication to safeguarding life and property, protecting citizens against violence and disorder, and standing up for the innocent and most vulnerable among us, even in the face of personal harm; and

WHEREAS, the duties, responsibilities, hazards, and sacrifices that face law enforcement officers on a daily basis earn them the respect, admiration, and gratitude of the people they serve and protect; and

WHEREAS, we pay tribute to the 62 Alaskan law enforcement officers who have fallen in the line of duty over the last century. We honor their memory and sacrifice, and pay homage to their legacy of excellence and devotion to duty.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Sean Parnell, Governor of the State of Alaska, do hereby proclaim May 11-18, 2012 as:

Law Enforcement Memorial Week in Alaska, and encourage all Alaskans to recognize the courageous sacrifices made by our law enforcement officers and their families, and to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. May we always remember what they do on a daily basis to defend and protect our rights and safety.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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