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National Peace Officer Memorial Observance

The ceremony’s guest speaker was Bonner County Deputy Mike Gagnon.

National Peace Officer Memorial Observance

National Peace Officer Memorial Observance

By Donna Capurso

On Friday, May 19, 2017, 5:00 p.m. at the Veteran’s Park in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, the weather was perfect for the gathering of local law enforcement officers and the public that came to pay their respects for the peace officers that have fallen in the line of duty.

The program began with a welcome from Chaplain Len Pine, followed by an invocation by Chaplain Bob Boone. The colors (flags) were then posted by the Explorer’s Color Guard, and Chaplain Lewis Clark led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Listening to Chaplain Len Pine sing the “The Star Spangled Banner” a cappella was breathtaking to say the least. Chaplain Todd Krautkremer then shared some scriptures from Ezekiel, Romans & Psalms with the audience.

Mayor David Simms then read the following Proclamation:

To recognize National Police Week 2017 and to honor the service and sacrifice of those law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty while protecting our communities.

WHEREAS, there are approximately 900,000 law enforcement officers serving in communities across the United States, including those serving here in local, state, and federal agencies;

WHEREAS, there have been 15,548 assaults against law enforcement officers in 2015, resulting in approximately 14,453 injuries;

WHEREAS, since the first recorded death in 1791, more than 20,000 law enforcement officers in the United States have made the ultimate sacrifice and been killed in the line of duty;

WHEREAS, the names of these dedicated public servants are engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.;

WHEREAS, 394 new names of fallen heroes are being added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial this spring, including 143 officers killed in 2016 and 251 officers killed in previous years;

WHEREAS, the service and sacrifice of all officers killed in the line of duty will be honored during the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Fund’s 29th annual Candlelight Vigil, on the evening of May 13, 2017;

WHEREAS, the Candlelight Vigil is part of National Police Week, which takes place this year on May 14-20; NOTE: Because May 14, 2017 falls on a Sunday, some events will take place before the official dates of police week 2017.

WHEREAS, May 15 is designated as Peace Officers Memorial Day, in honor of all fallen officers and their families and U.S. flags should be flown at half-staff;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, formally designates May 14-20, 2017, as Police Week in Bonners Ferry, and publicly salutes the service of law enforcement officers in our community and in communities across the nation.

There were 156 officers’ names read that are “GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN,” 13 of which fell in 2015 and 143 in 2016 and honored by the following people by reading the names of those fallen officers: BF Councilman Rick Alonzo, Explorer Richard Cowell, BCSO Deputy Bill Jarrell, BFPD Chief Vic Watson, BCSO Deputy J. Hoff, BCCC Chaplain Earl Matthews, ISP Trooper Dusty Kralik, and US Border Patrol Agent Matt Turner.

Boundary County Sheriff Dave Kramer introduced the ceremony’s guest speaker, Bonner County Deputy Mike Gagnon. Deputies Gagnon and Justin Penn were both shot several times while attempting to serve an arrest warrant in Blanchard in January of this year.

Deputy Gagnon stated he was humbled to have been asked to speak at 2017 Boundary County Peace Officer’s Memorial. He has been in law enforcement for 4 ½ years and has proudly served with the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office for just over two years. Deputy Gagnon followed in his father’s footsteps, who served with the California Highway Patrol as well as his uncle who was a patrol sergeant in Berlin, New Hampshire. Mike stated that he has “no regrets, not one second, for having followed my family into this career.” To Deputy Gagnon, law enforcement “is more than a career; it is a way of life, a calling.”

Mike gave a perspective that both active and retired LEO’s are familiar with, but he painted a picture for the general public and for the men and women that are thinking about getting into the law enforcement field when he said, “If working holidays, nights, being spit at, being called names that were not issued at birth, are not your thing then law enforcement may not be for you. If long cold hikes in the rain or late night counseling sessions with your favorite drunk makes you uncomfortable, law enforcement may not be for you. However, helping the public and working with some of the finest, most dedicated men and women you will ever meet sounds appealing then consider law enforcement as it may be for you.”

Deputy Gagnon felt that the ceremony this day has a different meaning to each of us. He was hopeful that when we left the proceedings we would leave with a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made by law enforcement officers, not only here in Boundary and Bonner Counties, but in all of Idaho and across our entire country. He spoke of the three officers recently lost in our area. Coeur d’Alene Police Department Sergeant Greg Moore who was murdered on May 5, 2015 while conducting a “routine” check of a suspicious person. Sgt. Moore was 43 years old. Idaho State Trooper Linda Huff, age 33, was murdered in a cowardly ambush on June 17, 1998. And on January 12, 1989, U.S. Forest Service Officer Brent Jacobson was murdered while assisting Bonner County Deputies track two robbery suspects. Officer Jacobson was 41 years old. Deputy Gagnon stated that “we remember these three officers because we were their friends, neighbors, their family, but nearly every day we are told of another brother or sister taken from us too early. We may not know their names, but let us never forget their sacrifice.”

Deputy Gagnon spoke a great deal about sacrifice: “We honor the lost by remembering their sacrifice. I believe when an officer begins their quest toward the pinning of the badge, we do not understand what will be required of us. No one believes they will be the one under the flag. We may understand the concept of sacrifice, but not the reality. It is through months of academy and field training when the understanding begins. By talking to senior officers, listening to stories, sweating at the range, freezing at the range, seeing the repeated disappointment on the faces of our wives and family as we once again miss an important event. When we hear of fallen heroes, attend their funerals, listen to the tears of their loved ones, our understanding of sacrifice begins. What we don’t understand, what is impossible to comprehend, is that we will spend our careers with brothers and sisters that will step in front a bullet for you…and for me.”

The wreath laying ceremony then took place with Deputy Robert Elam placing the wreath near the U.S. Flag.

Chaplain Len Pine gave a brief introduction on “The Last Call.” Sheriff Dave Kramer then asked Crystal Denton, the dispatch supervisor to give the last call over the radio as follows: “All units stand by for memorial last call on Red Channel. This last call is in honor of all those lost in the line of duty serving our communities throughout the Nation. In 2016 we had 144 line of duty deaths.

The men and women of Boundary County are forever grateful to each of those lost, and are proud to continue to serve our communities. We will never forget the ultimate sacrifice these men and women made.  All units, break for a moment of silence. May you all rest in peace, knowing that your strength lives on in your families, your legacies will be carried on through your children, and that your honor will continue on with all of us. Thank you for your service.  Memorial last call clear.”

The National Peace Officer Memorial Observance was concluded with a prayer and benediction by Chaplain Len Pine, the lowering of the flag to half-staff by BFPD Chief Vic Watson accompanied by bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” by retired BFFD Chief Patrick Warkentin, and retiring the Colors by the Explorers.