Boundary County’s National Peace Officer Memorial Observance
On Friday, May 13th, 2022 at 6:00 pm, Boundary County held their observance on the lawn in front of the Sheriff’s Office. Chaplain Len Pine welcomed the folks that came and gave the opening prayer.
The Presentation of the Colors were posted by the Boundary County Fire Rescue Honor Guard followed by Chaplain Paula DesBiens leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
Chaplain Len Pine sang our National Anthem and I am always in awe of his singing.
Chaplain Dave Lotze presented the following: “Having just recited the pledge of allegiance, and sung the National Anthem, we ought to be reminded, when we as God’s people, take God out of our lives, right and wrong become blurred. Our laws then become subject to our environment and our feelings. As a result, chaos will rule our lands. I’ll say it again, when we take God out of the equation, chaos will prevail”. He read the following scriptures: Ezekiel 33:2-16, Romans 13:1-4 and Psalm 82:3-4.
“As many of you may know, the law enforcement community is deep in traditions. The badge for instance, stands as a reminder to serve and protect. It is worn over the heart, to acknowledge the pledge or oath taken by the individual. Although it only weights a couple of ounces, its true weight is measured by the individual that wears it. The badge represents: strength of character, resilience, integrity, honor, dedication and sacrifice.
Some have carried the full weight of the badge to its end, and sacrificed their lives in service to others. The end of watch call, serves as a haunting reminder, that there is now a void behind the badge; a brother or sister has fallen. Their sacrifice is honored here today. The Last Call broadcast started in the eastern United States and has spread across the nation. It has become a tradition of public safety funerals, for decades.
In the case of individuals, most agencies begin the broadcast by querying the fallen officer’s radio call-sign, as if calling them for a normal status check. When the officer (as expected) does not respond, the dispatcher proceeds to transmit a specially formatted “final call”. This call outlines the officer’s service, and ends with a final message of farewell to the fallen officer.
This tradition is also employed to honor those who have fallen as a group. Today, the end of watch call of gratitude, serves as a reminder for all of those who have given the final measure of service to their communities in the line of duty. Though we know they cannot physically respond, their voices collectively echo in our consciousness — We gave all, heavy is the weight of their badge, their sacrifice will never be forgotten”.
Blessings, Chaplain Dave Lotze
Chaplain Paula DesBiens introduced the “Gone, but not Forgotten” reading of the Idaho Peace Officer memorial list which was read by SAR Chief Tony Jeppesen, BFPD Officer Jeremy Garrett, CBP Officer James Solum, BCSO Linda Ekstrom and Curley Creek FD Alexander Garber.
Sheriff Dave Kramer explained the Fallen Officer Table:
The Table is set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one Officer. It is round to show our everlasting concern for our fallen Peace Officers.
The Tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve and protect.
The American Flag represents the oath to uphold the US Constitution.
A Single Red Rose in the Vase signifies the blood that many have shed in sacrifice to ensure the safety they swore to protect. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing Officers.
A Slice of Lemon on the bread plate represents the bitter fate of the Peace Officers killed in the line of duty.
Salt Sprinkled on the Bread Plate is symbolic of the countless fallen tears of families and friends.
The Inverted Glass represents the fact that the fallen Officers cannot partake.
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith.
A Lit Candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts.
The Empty Chair represents that the fallen Peace Officer is not present.
Sheriff Dave Kramer introduced Boundary County Chief Deputy Rich Stephens as the event speaker:
When Chaplain Pine asked me if I would be tonight’s speaker, I honestly did not want to do it. I’m not a public speaker. It is out of my comfort zone and I am not very good at it. It is a huge honor but I wasn’t sure that I could do the ceremony justice. Previous speakers have shared meaningful experience and stories. I have not personally experienced the tragic loss of a partner that I can relate to you.
Whether fortunate or just plain lucky, in 28 years of law enforcement, I’ve not lost a coworker in violence and I have not had to suffer the trauma of taking the life of another human. I do not think for a second that it has been because I have been more skillful or was better trained than any of the officers whose names we have read, I’ve just been incredibly lucky. Maybe that’s the point. This ceremony is not about me or the stories that I could tell. This is to honor those who we have lost.
As with most peace officers, I did not enter into this profession with aspirations of notoriety or recognition. Sadly, the officers most remembered by us are those lost in the line of duty. Is there anyone here who has not seen a K27 sticker on a window and knows exactly what it represents?
I don’t know Idaho State Police Trooper Huff’s name because of her performance as a peace office. I know her name because she was shot and killed in 1998 and has been honored by the Linda C. Huff Memorial Hwy and the Linda Huff building in Coeur d’Alene.
It has been 26 years since I worked in the jail where the medical wing was named Stahl Hall in memory of David Harvey Stahl, a deputy who was shot and killed in 1961, yet his name is vividly engraved in my memory.
It is in their honor that we memorialize those lost in this way. But every family of those who we’ve lost would give anything to have their loved ones remain unanimous and still have them with us.
I do wish that our society could embrace the good and positive work done by peace officers in the same way that the media villainize their mistakes and publicizes the tragedies. You don’t see national headlines describing heroic or selfless acts by officers who are willing to give everything to help those in need. But when an officer makes a mistake, that tragedy will be played over and over for weeks on end. The result is a deep divide between our law enforcement and the public that they have sworn to protect. We have riots started thousands of miles away from where these incidents happen by people who do not have any connection to those involved. This causes even further division. Peace officers have become targeted by politicians. And peace officers are literally targeted by violence for no other reason than the uniform that they wear and for the law and order that it stands for.
Our society is losing respect. Not just towards law enforcement but in general. Until our culture is ready to change that, the list of names that we read every May will continue to grow.
Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler laid the wreath for the final farewell followed by the introduction of the “last call” by Chaplain Dave Lotze and the closing prayer was completed by Chaplain Lewis Clark.
The Colors were then retired by the BCFR Honor Guard, accompanied by the recording of “Amazing Grace.”