Honoring fallen peace officers
For many in law enforcement, it is a time to pay respect to the officers who gave up their lives in the line of duty.
It is a reminder of how dangerous the job can be and how critical it is to take every work day seriously.
It is a sobering time of reflection, where officers are reminded that any shift could be their last.
May 15 is designated as Peace Officers Memorial Day. The day of recognition was created on Oct. 1, 1961, when Congress asked the President John F. Kennedy to set aside the day to honor peace officers. Kennedy signed the bill into law one year later, Oct. 1, 1962.
The day is designated to pay tribute to the local, state and federal peace officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty.
Locally, personnel from the Crook County Sheriff's Office and Prineville Police Department will once again commemorate the day with a ceremony on the county courthouse lawn. The event, which is being held on May 8, one week prior to the officially designated day, will feature a speech from Crook County Sheriff John Gautney and Prineville Police Chief Dale Cummins. The event begins at 10 a.m. at the Crook County Courthouse lawn.
"Mainly I think about all of those people who have been put in harm's way, and they did it because they were trying to help others," said Prineville Police Sgt. Troy Wiles. "We don't want to have any officers lose their lives, but when we take this job, we know that could be a possibility. We go toward the bad things when most people go away from it, and that's what we have decided to do and the choice we have made."
After the two administrators speak, staff from both agencies will conduct four flag ceremonies. The first is held at the courthouse, and officials then do the same outside the sheriff's office and police department, and in the Prineville City Hall plaza.
For Crook County Undersheriff James Savage, Peace Officers Memorial Day and the local ceremony serve as a sobering reminder of how dangerous law enforcement can be.
"I have a cousin who is on the (National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial) wall who was killed in the line of duty," he said. "I know several friends who were killed in the line of duty. Just because it hasn't happened to us, doesn't mean it can't happen. Most of those people were in small towns just like ours where somebody is going to work for their shift and things unfold and don't turn out good."