Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams praised law enforcement officers Friday for putting their lives in danger for the good of the community.
“It’s about being above self,” Williams said. “It’s about doing the right thing. It’s about having the courage to go into harm’s way knowing that ‘I can save a life.’ ”
Williams spoke at a memorial service at City Hall honoring city and county law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. The event was part of rememberances across the country during National Police Week.
Williams also urged the community to take time to thank officers for their service.
“That goes a long way,” he said.
“Encouragement is the fuel of the soul. That gives us the energy to go back and take on our jobs to make our community safer.”
Williams thanked the families of the fallen who attended the service for continuing to support law enforcement and remaining part of the law-enforcement family. He also recognized all those who were present in uniform by asking them to stand for a round of applause.
He said more than 20,000 officers around the country have died in the line of duty, including 233 in Kansas and 29 in Wichita and Sedgwick County. Sheriff Jeff Easter said he was thankful that no new names needed to be added to the list of fallen this year
Wichita vice mayor Jeff Blubaugh and Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Dave Unruh read proclamations honoring the event. One officer from the police department and one from sheriff’s office read the names of officers who have been killed.
Threatening weather prevented the annual placing of a wreath at the Law Enforcement Memorial on the southwest corner of Central and Main. The wreath instead was placed in front of the chambers as “Taps” was played. Bagpipers played “Amazing Grace” to end the service.
Of the 29 law enforcement officers in Sedgwick County who have died in the line of duty since 1871, 19 were Wichita police officers, eight were Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputies and one each came from Derby and Clearwater.
The first officer killed was Deputy Carlos King, who died Sept. 23, 1871. The most recent officer who died in the line of duty was Deputy Brian Etheridge, who was shot to death on Sept. 28, 2009.
Contributing: Stan Finger of The Eagle.