Forty-one peace officers have already died in the line of duty in the United States, including two in Alaska.
Peace officers across the country celebrated their Memorial Day on Wednesday. In Juneau, police officers gathered at noon at Evergreen Cemetery to remember fallen officers Richard Adair and Jimmy Kennedy, who died by gunfire in 1979 while responding to a call just up the hill from the cemetery. The suspect committed suicide.
Adair is buried at Evergreen Cemetery and Juneau public safety officers traditionally lay a wreath at the grave.
Lt. Kris Sell said the wreath is a symbol of the sacrifice of Adair, Kennedy, and other fallen officers.
“We stand here today at the equivalent of the Juneau Police Officer Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That’s a place in (Washington) D.C. that is used to honor soldiers who have lost their lives,” Sell said. “We treat this sacred and honored place of Adair’s final resting place as our place to come and give our thanks for those sacrifices.”
The Memorial Day commemoration continued last evening at JPD, where State Trooper Lt. Steve Hall remembered Village Public Safety Officer Thomas Madole and Alaska State Trooper Tage Toll, who died in separate incidents in March.
Madole was shot and killed on March 7th in Manokotak, about 25 miles southwest of Dillingham. Hall says it was clear Madole had established a close connection to the people of the Yup’ik Eskimo village of about 450.
“It’s a hard thing to do to move into a rural community like that and be that accepted,” Hall said. “You really have to be an exceptional individual to have that kind of relationship that quickly with the close knit community you’re going into. So his service is evident in that by itself.”
Toll was the father of small children who had been a state trooper for about 10 years. He died March 30th in a helicopter crash, after rescuing a stranded snowmobiler.
“Tage was a real dedicated guy. He moved around the state a fair bit, worked in different positions so he was known by lots and lots of members of the department,” Hall said.
President Barack Obama issued a proclamation establishing May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day. Gov. Sean Parnell has declared May 10 through 17 as Law Enforcement Memorial Week in Alaska.