It’s the end of National Police Week, a time of year law enforcement is honored nationally.
For the past 31 years, a candlelight vigil has been held in Washington D.C at the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum.
However with the restrictions on social gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s vigil was held virtually. More than 2,000 people joined the live broadcast, which honored officers killed in the line of duty over the last year.
Traditions of the annual vigil were not forgotten as photos of fallen officers were shown on the screen and their names read aloud.
This year, 307 law enforcement officers joined the 21,910 already engraved names on the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.
“Right now all over the country, law enforcement professionals are putting their lives on the line, continuing to protect us despite the dangers of COVID-19,” said Marcia Ferranto, CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Foundation. “We have been given the unique opportunity to unite for this solemn occasion virtually.”
Both the California Highway Patrol Newhall station and the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department understand the risks of working in law enforcement jobs. They also understand the importance of honoring the fallen.
“At the academy, a couple days before graduation, the graduating class will run from the academy to the California Police Officer Memorial located next to the Capital,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Joshua Greengard of the Newhall area office.. “These memorials offer a reminder of the dangers of the job and the sacrifices of those who wore the badge before you have made.”
On April 6, 1970, four CHP Newhall officers were killed in a four-minute gun battle. Officers George Alleyn, Walt Fargo, Roger Gore and James Pence lost their lives in what is now called the Newhall Incident. Ultimately, their death sparked a major reform of felony traffic stop procedures.
Today, a brick memorial honoring the four fallen officers is on display about a mile from the scene at the present-day Newhall station. The memorial is one of the many local remembrances honoring the fallen near the station.
“We also have portraits of each officer that line our walls inside our station,” Greengard said. “They are situated in the middle of the office and during a shift you will walk by them numerous times a day. So in that aspect, we are reminded by the fallen everyday.”
CHP Newhall is not the only local law enforcement station remembering the fallen. The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station recruits are reminded of the sacrifice the fallen officers have taken even before they don a badge.
In early 2020, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Academy class No. 443 honored four fallen deputies during their colors run at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Deputies Hagop “Jake” Kuredjian, Arthur Pelino, David March and Randy Hamson were honored on the back of the class’ shirts. March’s widow, Teri March, witnessed the run. In an emotional moment, those in attendance recited Deputy March’s motto, written by nine days before he was gunned down April 29, 2002.
“My goals are simple. I will always be painfully honest, work as hard as I can, learn as much as I can and hopefully make a difference in people’s lives,” the recruits of Class No. 443 recited.
A park and street are named after March in honor of his dedication to his fellow deputies.
A memorial plaque dedicated to Kuredjian rests at the corner of Stevenson Ranch and Poe parkways.
On the anniversary of his death, deputies stand at the memorial, conducting a 24-hour watch of the site. Kuredjian also has a park and street named after him. He shares a space in the sheriff’s station’s memorial garden with Pelino.
Hamson has a street named after him in Canyon Country, located at the end of Via Princessa.
Deputies from the Santa Clarita station ride in the Police Unity Tour, which ends at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C, where the vigil for National Police Week takes place. However, because of the vigil being moved online, the ride was cancelled.
“We feel so limited in what we can do right now,” Shirley Miller spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station said.
In a Facebook post by the station in honor of the end of National Police Week, they “honor and remember all of the law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others, including the officers from our family, who are honored in the SCV Sheriff’s Memorial Garden.”
Viewers from all over the nation came together to honor the fallen deputies online, many commenting their forever love for lost loved ones. Over 1,500 comments were made throughout the night.
“We also honor the survivors; families, friends and co-workers whose lives are forever changed by their loss,” Ferranto said. The ceremony ended with First Sgt. Michael McCann of the Virginia State Police playing the bagpipes in honor of those who have lost their lives.
The vigil can be watched here.