AP NEWS

Community marks Peace Officers Memorial Day

May 17, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — Community members helped area law enforcement and their loved ones mark Peace Officers Memorial Day on Wednesday.

Hosted by the Bullhead City Police Department and held in front of the City Council chamber, the ceremony brought together law enforcement agencies from Mohave County and the Tri-state with Bullhead City residents young and old.

The Mohave High School Air Force Junior ROTC posted the colors. The school’s concert choir sang the national anthem and “Amazing Grace.”

The police department’s seven-person firing party shot three rounds as a salute to officers who have died in the line of duty. BHCPD Lt. Robert Trebes read the list of names of officers from around the region who have been killed while serving their communities. Officer Troy Teske performed taps.

Pastor Bruce Rahlf provided an invocation and Pastor Josiah Drawhorn gave the benediction.

BHC Police Chief Brian Williamson talked about how young men and women don’t simply “sign up” for law enforcement careers. They want to assist and protect others. They willingly take risks that might prove fatal. Their families often are people who are interested in the welfare of others, too.

Co-workers don’t just feel sorrow but also remember “times of laughter, times of honor and times when you just shake your head.”

And their families are profoundly aggrieved. Williamson talked about a letter included in the April issue of “Law Enforcement Today.” It was written by a slain officer’s widow left alone to raise two toddlers. She wrote the letter to the publication six years after her husband’s death.

The children were staying with relatives. She told them she had to work. The story provided her time to carry out a grim and desperate plan to do away with her pain, anger, heartache and emptiness.

Williamson read from the woman’s letter to the magazine. Below are some passages:

“I wanted to take my own life with one of his old guns. The irony of that would have been laughable. I went so far as to plan it out. I knew where his guns were. I had never touched them because I had never needed to.”

Her planned final moments included a meal that was her husband’s favorite and a bottle of wine they had intended to enjoy together on their 20th anniversary. Then she watched a video from their wedding night.

After that, she went to get her husband’s gun from his gun safe. The combination code was the date of their anniversary. She opened the safe to find a gun but saw an envelope on top of it with her name on it. It was from her husband.

“I knew he wasn’t alive. But in that moment, just that moment, he was,” she wrote. “He was there with me. I could feel his love. I could feel his warmth. I could feel his embrace.”

The officer noted that he had hoped the letter would never ended up being read. If she needed to use the gun to protect herself, then she wouldn’t have stopped to read the letter.

“My heart aches as I write you this letter. I pray you will never read it. ... But you are reading it. And that means that for as hard as I tried to protect our family, I failed. And I am so sorry.”

The officer’s letter explained that she broke him — but in the best way possible.

“You did not do a damn thing but you did everything at the same time and the way you looked at me broke me and built me and made me the man I am today. Or should I say the man you came to know.”

He said that a merciful God would allow him to protect her and their children even in death. He urged her to make sure the children grew up to be as sensitive and empathetic as she is.

“I want our children to not be afraid to be protectors like I tried to be. If you are reading this then there is a good chance that I’m not here because of work. Do not let that break you or them. We have to be good. We have to be helping. We have to be loving. If we are not all of those things like our family is then we can’t teach others around us to have those qualities. If we aren’t willing to see the good in people then who will be?”

He described the satisfaction that came from helping others. At that point in his career he had given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to nine children.

“Because I have to believe that those nine lives and their families and one day their children will make the world a good and beautiful and happy place for people.”

And he reminded her that she could benefit from helping women who have gone through a similar experience.

“This is important to me. It’s important to me because I know it will help you heal because I know your heart and I know your love. ... Now fight for others. Because that is what this family does.”

The woman wrote that the letter was “how my dead husband saved my life.”

Williamson said 163 officers died in the line of duty across the United States In 2018. There have been 42 officer deaths so far this year.

May 15 is recognized as Peace Officers Memorial Day after a 1962 proclamation by President John F. Kennedy. National Police Officers Week occurs during the week May 15 falls. The week of commemoration ends this year on May 18.