Boundary County Ceremony For Fallen Law Enforcement Officers
On May 14, 2021 many citizens of Boundary County gathered on the grass in front of the Sheriff’s Office to pay homage and respect for law enforcement officers who lost their lives in 2020. Many who gathered for this occasion were retired law enforcement, both men and women, who came to honor those who “gave it all” as well as citizens of this wonderful community.
The ceremony was opened by the Boundary County Fire Rescue Honor Guard who posted the colors (flags). The following was presented to the public by Pastor Len Pine:
“To recognize National Police Week 2021 and to honor the service and sacrifice of those law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty while protecting our communities and safeguarding our Republic, we welcome you to this local observance of our national memorial held in Washington, D.C., this week. 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. Since 2009, on average, there have been 49,500 assaults against law enforcement officers annually, resulting in an average of 13,659 injuries annually. The first law enforcement death was recorded in 1786, and since then more than 22,000 law enforcement officers in the United States have made the ultimate sacrifice and been killed in the line of duty. One hundred and twenty-eight officers’ names have been added to that total this past year.”
All 128 names of the officers who lost their lives as well as the city and state where they served, and for the first time, the list was read in chronological order of death and provided the cause of death. The agencies and officers who had the honor of presenting this list were the following: Search and Rescue (Commander Tony Jeppesen), Boundary County Sheriff’s Office (Under-Sheriff Rich Stephens and Dispatcher Lynda Ekstrom), Customs and Border Patrol (Officers Matthew Mooneyham and Joshua Pope), and Boundary County Chaplain Corps (Chaplains Lewis Clark and Matthew Brakeman).
Randy Palmer, a retired Police Officer (twice), State Trooper and Deputy Sheriff was the keynote speaker for this event. The following is his presentation:
“We are here today to honor and commemorate the lives ‘taken’ from those who have served before us. You notice I did not say ‘gave’. None of us takes this job with the intent of ‘giving our life’ when we sign up. We do agree to place ourselves in harm’s way with the understanding our lives may be jeopardized. None of us ever think ‘today I am going to work and sacrifice my life for others’, yet that is exactly what we do.”
“It takes a special type of person to be a Police Officer. Many start out and find the job does not fit them or they do not fit the job. Those that do fit the job never seem to leave it, even after they retire. Think about the older retirees that become Reserves. They must think, ‘Hey, I used to get shot at for pay, now I get to do it for free!’ It just shows their dedication and commitment and I want them to all know how much we appreciate their support and hard work.”
“My son, Erik Palmer, is a Deputy Sheriff for Umatilla County in Pendleton, Oregon. He started in 2002 with MFPD, worked for Pendleton PD, Athena PD and now UCSO. He has survived three critical incidents in which his life was threatened; two of his assailants did not, the third is still physically incapacitated. I worry about him every day.”
Randy shared a number of his personal law enforcement experiences:
“I have lost many friends and coworkers in critical incidents. Some were taken in tragic collisions, others were the results of tactical errors or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“Wednesday, September 30, 1992: Trooper Bret Clodfelter was shot and killed while transporting a suspected drunk driver to jail. Trooper Clodfelter had conducted a traffic stop of a suspected drunk driver. He had handcuffed the driver and placed him in the back of his patrol car. Trooper Clodfelter offered to drive two passengers in the vehicle to their residence nearby. Bret had arrested the suspect and then searched both of the other subjects before transporting them. The investigation showed that one of the subjects had been holding a folded coat in his hand and handed it to his associate while he was searched. He was handed back the coat while the other subject was searched. The coat never got searched and contained a loaded .38 revolver, and all three were placed in the back of the patrol car together. Those two tactical errors killed two good officers.
Rene Clodfelter, formerly Rene Crockett, had been a personal friend of mine. She was a Pendleton Police Dispatcher and Umatilla Tribal Officer before marrying Bret and taking a job as a Deputy Sheriff in Deschutes County. She took her own life with her duty weapon.
The suspect, Francisco Manzo-Hernandez, was an illegal alien that had been previously deported in December, 1991 and illegally returned the same month, and had several outstanding felony warrants.”
“On Tuesday, September 4, 2001, OSP Sergeant John Burright, with an off-duty officer as a ride along, Officer Jason Hoerauf of the Albany Police Department, stopped on the freeway to assist a family in a disabled van. Trooper Maria Mignano stopped to assist as well. A pickup truck driven by a drowsy driver with a suspended license, veered off the roadway, struck the right rear of Mignano’s cruiser, then struck all three officers on the passenger side of the vehicles. Both Mignana and Hoerauf died from their injuries, Sgt. Burright later recovered from his critical injuries but medically retired. The driver was not injured and later took a plea bargain for Criminally Negligent Homicide and served two years. They did nothing wrong, were practicing good officer safety, and yet two officers lives were taken needlessly, the third damaged for life.”
“We are here today to remember those valiant members of our profession. We are here today to make sure those lives taken were not sacrificed in vain. Every life lost should be a priceless reminder to us how fragile and fleeting life is. Never take any day for granted as it could be your last. Any one of you or the officer next to you could be a name on that memorial wall next year.”
“As I part, I want to share some things with you I have learned the hard way. Always let and show the people around you how much you love them and appreciate their support. This is a tough job and we cannot do it on our own. You may not get the chance to tell them tomorrow. Never quit learning or taking advantage of all the training you can get your hands on. Tools, tactics and training will give you the best chance at surviving the career you have chosen. That includes our favorites like CPR, Blood Borne Pathogens, and First Aid! Never give up your weapon or tactical advantage to a hostile force. You have the best chance for surviving and neutralizing the situation and giving your weapon or tactical advantage away is going to get you or someone else killed.”
“There are many others, but lastly and most important, “NEVER QUIT.” No matter what happens, you can survive being shot, you can survive being severely injured, and you can survive great tragedy. But if you quit, if you give up, your chance of surviving any critical incident is greatly diminished. Survivors never quit, quitters never survive. If you do not believe this, just look to our other heroes, the warriors that sacrificed their bodies and limbs for our Great Nation in foreign in foreign countries for our freedoms”
“Any time you see of interact with an officer, please tell them how much you appreciate their service. And for those of you that are believers, please pray daily for their continued safety. Thank you for the opportunity for me to share with you. God bless you all and stay safe out there.”
I would like to thank Randy Palmer for this opportunity for me to share his experiences with you all. I am very glad that he and his wife have relocated to north Idaho which is known as “Blue Heaven” for a reason.
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