Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Honoring Those Who Gave the Ultimate Sacrifice

In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15th falls as National Police Week.

National Police Week 2012 will be celebrated Sunday, May 13th through Saturday, May 19th, with Tuesday, May 15th, being National Peace Officers Memorial Day. During this week, many events, services and activities will be held to honor the brave men and women who dedicated their lives to serving our country and who made the ultimate sacrifice.

In 2011, the U.S. lost 173 law enforcement officers in the line of duty, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. That is up from 153 officers in 2010. Sadly, Kansas lost one officer in the line of duty in 2011.

Since being appointed as the Chief of Police in 1996, my biggest fear has always been the realization that possibly someday, another one of Overland Park's finest could be killed in the line of duty during my watch. Thankfully that hasn't happened, but I'm sad to say that isn't the case for many of my fellow Police Chiefs across the country who are forced to bury one of their own far too many times.

That fear became a reality for my predecessor, Chief Myron Scafe, back on January 26th, 1985, when Overland Park lost Officer Deanna Rose in the line of duty.

Officer Deanna Rose was killed when a teenage boy she was attempting to arrest for drunk driving assaulted her and ran over her. During the arrest the boy knocked her down underneath his car. As he drove away he ran her over, causing fatal injuries.

Officer Deanna Rose was the first Overland Park Officer killed in the line of duty and the first female officer in Kansas to die in the line of duty. Prior to that time, she was a member of the San Diego, California County Sheriff's office.

The City of Overland Park dedicated a 12-acre Children’s Farmstead in honor of Officer Rose in 1985. Officer Rose received the Award for Valor posthumously from the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police.

As you walk down one of the main hallways of Sanders Justice Center, there's a reminder on the wall of the sacrifice Deanna Rose made on behalf of the citizens of Overland Park. Inside a display case sit the various items from the duty belt and uniform of Deanna Rose. My hope is that when each officer walks by that location it will be a reminder to them of just how fragile life is and how much they need to be on guard every day.