Representatives from the various law enforcement agencies in Dougherty County stand behind the wreaths made in memory of fallen officers in the government plaza Thursday.
ALBANY, Ga. — Officials from around Dougherty County paid homage to officers who have died in the line of duty in observance of the most solemn day of National Police Week.
Relatives of those officers who have been killed in the line pinned flowers to wreaths from each of the law enforcement agencies that operate in Dougherty County.
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In line with tradition, a moment of silence was followed by an honorary call out over the public safety radio band honoring the final “end-of-shift” call of the officers as a police car draped with black cloth followed by a riderless horse carrying rear-facing boots slowly crept away from the downtown Government Center.
Kenneth Cutts, director of the Albany headquarters of U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, addressed the families of slain officers, expressing gratitude for the sacrifices of their loved ones who had died and the slain officers’ survivors.
“There is nothing I can say that can ease that pain, that can ease the wound of the loss of a son or daughter, husband or a wife, an aunt or uncle or brother or sister or a friend, comrade or a colleague,” Cutts said. “But what I can say today is thank you. Thank you on behalf of this community. Thank you on behalf of this state. Thank you on behalf of this country.”
National Police Memorial Day has been observed around the nation since 1962, when President John Kennedy signed a resolution designating May 15 as the official Police Memorial Day and the week on which it falls as National Police Week.
The first known slaying of a police officer in the U.S. is believed to have occurred in 1791 when Constable Darius Quimby was gunned down in Albany County, N.Y., according to the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Fund. Since that time, 19,000 officers have been killed while on duty.
So far this year, 40 officers across the country have died, an increase of 21 percent over the same period last year, according to the NLEOMF. Of that total, 15 were fatally shot, 15 died in vehicle crashes and 10 died from other causes.
California leads the nation with seven officer fatalities this year, followed by Arkansas with four, Florida with two, Louisiana with two and Mississippi with two. Georgia has had one line-of-duty death this year.
In Dougherty County, Albany Police Officer Terry Lewis-Flemming is the most recent officer to fall while on duty. She was killed in traffic crash during a pursuit on Oct. 28, 2011.
Other line of duty deaths from the APD include Ptl. Randy Eugene Brown, who was shot to death in June 1979; Ptl. Thomas William Dunbar, who was shot to death in 1961; Ptl. Earl B. Crenshaw, who died in a motorcycle crash in 1956; Chief Robert Sidney Wallis, who was shot to death in 1928, and Ptl. Marion C. Collins, who was shot to death in 1920.
Deputy Albert Duane Clark and Capt. Thomas Mitchell Williamson died in car crashes while on duty with the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Clifford Rouse, of the Dougherty County Police Department, was shot to death while on a call on Dec. 23, 2010.
Chief John Ross Juneau, of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport public safety unit, died of a heart attack after a footchase of a suspect at the Albany Mall in 2003.
Cpl. Dustin Lee, who had been stationed at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, was killed in Iraq in March 2007.