ANCHORAGE— Two names have been added to the Alaska Police Memorial: Manokotak Village public safety officer Thomas Madole and Alaska State Trooper Tage Toll.
At a ceremony at the state’s new crime lab in Anchorage on Friday, 64 names were read, joined by the ringing of a bell to mark each one, in honor of Alaska Police Memorial Day, KTUU-TV reported.
Troopers say Madole was fatally shot by Leroy B. Dick Jr. during a March 19 confrontation, when Madole responded to reports that Dick was suicidal. Dick has been charged with first-degree murder.
Toll was one of three people who died in the March 30 crash of AST’s Helo-1 near Talkeetna.
“These officers aren’t heroes so much in how they died, but in how they lived,” said Walt Monegan, the day’s keynote speaker and a former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Public Safety.
DPS spokeswoman Megan Peters said Friday’s events are important to commemorate the sacrifices officers have made in Alaska over the years, which she said sometimes don’t receive as much publicity as cases in the Lower 48.
“This may not be New York or L.A. or Chicago, but tragedy strikes in small towns as easily as it can in cities,” Peters said.
Three troopers have also been wounded in the line of duty during the last year, receiving state Purple Heart awards issued by DPS in the tradition of the military medal.
Troopers Gordon Young and Christopher Bitz received shrapnel and gunshot wounds respectively in Kotzebue on June 17, when Arvid Nelson Jr. opened fire on them from a vehicle they were approaching. Nelson subsequently committed suicide during a standoff with troopers.
In a similar Mat-Su Valley incident, Peters says Trooper Andrew Ballesteros received two grazing head wounds during an Oct. 13 traffic stop on Trunk Road near the Parks Highway. Driver Nicholas Lee Frazier, who was later found dead from apparently self-inflicted gunshot wounds, opened fire on Ballesteros at short range, temporarily blinding him with the gunpowder flash of the shots.
DPS has also awarded two more Purple Hearts, posthumously, to Madole and Toll.