Local law enforcement agencies observed Peace Officers Memorial Day at the 20th annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on Wednesday, May 16, at the Centre County Courthouse.
Ferguson Township Chief of Police Chris Albright was among the speakers who read the names of 128 law enforcement officers the nation lost in the line of duty in 2017. He was joined by Chief Tyler Jolley of the Patton Township Police Department, State College Police Chief John F. Gardner, and others. Penn State University Police Department Chief Keith Morris welcomed those attending, and Centre County District Attorney Bernard Cantorna was the keynote speaker.
Chief Morris said he appreciates those who are carrying out their duties in a way that upholds and strengthens respect for law enforcement as a profession.
District Attorney Cantorna -- talking about the quality of life in the Centre Region -- noted how fortunate we are to live in an area that is safe in comparison to communities that have greater challenges. And he noted that law enforcement officers, while they may not "get the credit for doing so," are in large part responsible for keeping this community a safe and beautiful place to live.
The ceremony featured performances of the national anthem by Meg Brower, “Taps” by Officer Nick A Raia, and “Amazing Grace” by bagpiper David Samson; a Colors demonstration by the State College Police Department Ceremonial Honor Guard and SCI-Benner/Rockview Honor Guard, and a 21-Gun Salute by the Centre County Law Enforcement Rifle Team.
Every part of this solemn ceremony symbolizes the magnitude of commitment that peace officers make to protect their communities each day. The occasion is meaningful for the officers who are honoring their own, and for anyone who feels a debt to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
2018 Centre County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony Photo Gallery
Photos by Diana Griffith, Ferguson Township Communications Coordinator
May 13 – 19 is National Police Week, which honors the sacrifice of peace officers who have fallen in the line of duty.
President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation in 1962 designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day “to pay tribute to the law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and to voice our appreciation for all those who serve on the front lines of the battle against crime.”
Presidents who followed Kennedy have upheld and expanded on that proclamation:
President Bill Clinton directed the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff on May 15, and President George Bush proclaimed that this observance also reminds us “of the ongoing need to be vigilant against all forms of crime, especially to acts of extreme violence and terrorism.”
President Barack Obama proclaimed that fallen officers “exemplified the very idea of citizenship – that with our God-given rights come responsibilities and obligations to ourselves and others. They embodied that idea. That’s the way they died. That’s how we must remember them. And that’s how we must live…in a way that pays tribute to their memory.”
Lives on the line: Training, judgment and professionalism make for safer police and communities
Chief Albright says the extraordinary responsibility of keeping the peace calls for bravery, but most importantly, it requires these skills and commitment to service:
Patience: Whether they’re dealing with intoxicated people, individuals experiencing mental health episodes, or responding to domestic violence calls, officers' goal is to get help to someone under emotionally charged conditions. The circumstances are even more challenging when a victim of physical and psychological abuse may not want help for a number of reasons – such as fear of reprisal, or of losing the relationship or the family breadwinner.
Communication: Officers are able to stay calm and give people an opportunity to tell them what they need.
Being There for Children: Our officers regularly perform school safety checks and spend time with kids by joining them for lunch during the school day.
Community Presence: Why might you see officers chatting with customers at the convenience store? Getting out of the patrol car for a cup of coffee is an opportunity to say hello and answer any questions people may have.
Being Available and Open to Discussion: If you call the Ferguson Township Police Department, you'll find our Chief and officers available to talk about any concerns you may have.
Continuing Education and Adaptability: Our officers are continuously learning as laws change and new laws are enacted, and continuously training to stay current in first aid, CPR, and crisis intervention methods. They are always trying to improve their service to the community.
Professionalism. The most effective officers rely on their training and their judgment in every situation, no matter how challenging.
When you remember the bravery of fallen officers, take comfort in knowing that this combination of skills makes for safer officers and safer communities.