Five Juneau police officers will represent the department at the memorial service of Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson and Trooper Gabriel “Gabe” Rich, the two Alaska State Troopers killed last week in Tanana.
Chief Bryce Johnson, Dep. Chief Ed Mercer, Lt. Kris Sell, Officer Jeff Brink and Officer Kathy Underwood will attend the service Saturday in Fairbanks.
Lt. David Campbell says it’s important for members of Juneau Police Department to attend.
“Even though it’s a big state, it’s a small community of law enforcement officers. We work with people, we know people. And it just kind of serves as a wake-up call to the people here that you just never really know when you might go to a situation that might escalate into a life or death struggle,” Campbell says.
Peace Officers Memorial Day is May 15 and Juneau held its first event in honor of the week yesterday.
Around 50 people – officers and civilians – attended the ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery. It took place at the gravesite of Richard Adair, a Juneau police officer who was killed in the line of duty April 1979.
The second ceremony is today at 5:30 p.m. at Thunder Mountain High School.
The ceremony will recount the lives of three enforcement officers who were killed on duty in 2013. They were Alaska State Trooper Tage Toll, Village Public Safety Officer Thomas Madole, and Coast Guard Petty Officer Travis Obendorf.
Trooper Sgt. Johnson and Trooper Rich also will be honored.
NOAA special agent Frank Bonadonna organized the event. He says we need to remember that officers are real people.
“They have families. They have children who are left behind who are, in many cases, irreparably scarred from their deaths. And that really just doesn’t affect the families; it affects the whole community because police officers are men and women who take an oath to protect you and me and everyone else and they do so at their own peril and many times at the risk of their own lives,” Bonadonna says.
President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day in 1962. All of next week is considered National Police Week.