Mayor Linda Tyer read a proclamation honoring the week.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A total of 145 law enforcement officers across the country died in the line of duty last year, the highest total since 2011.
"One average one American law enforcement officer is killed every 53 hours somewhere in the United States. Last year, 145 law enforcement officers made the ultimate sacrifice. That is the highest total fatalities since 2011," Police Chief Michael Wynn said.
Those are added to the more than 20,000 who have been killed since 1791 and there have been another 50 so far in 2017.
As part of National Police Week, the Pittsfield Police Department honored all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during a ceremony at the First Street Common.
"It doesn't matter that decades of improvement in technology, equipment, and training, have been given to American law enforcement. All of those improvements are little consolidation to the families, loved ones, and colleagues, of those officers who no longer return home at the end of their shift," Wynn said.
"Despite all of the advances in our profession, ultimately it comes down to a single officer, alone, placing themselves in harm's way in order to keep the peace, restore order, and preserve lives."
National Police Week began in 1962 and for years Pittsfield has held a ceremony. The event serves as a reminder of the risk officers take every day when they go to work.
"The sacrifices that these officers made and those of their families, survivors, and colleagues cannot and must not be forgotten. It is important that we hold their memory and the memory of all of the other, nearly 21,000 fallen officers, close to our hearts to remind us of the risks and chances law enforcement officers take each and every day," Wynn said.
Locally, five officers have died: Capt. Michael Leonard, in 1898; Jailer James Fuller, 1901; Secret Service Operative William Craig, 1902; Officer Leo Sullivan, 1956; and Officer Timothy Shepard, 1988.
"We honor them most by continuing their work and their efforts in performing our duties," Wynn said.
The chief called officers "the guardians of our civilization" and the ones who run toward the sounds of chaos and disorder. The profession has become more difficult and unpopular, but still hundreds of young men and women join the ranks to serve as the watchdogs.
"They stand on the ramparts of our communities, posted between the residents, the citizens, and those who will do us harm," Wynn said.
Wynn was joined by Mayor Linda Tyer, who read a proclamation from the city honoring the week. Across the stage sat a number of dignitaries and officers from other departments.
Those included the Rev. Peter Gregory, who read an invocation, Sheriff Thomas Bowler, District Attorney David Capeless, Dalton Police Chief Jeffrey Coe, Lanesborough Police Chief Timothy Sorrell, Washington Police Chief Victor Breen, Stephen Marks from the Secret Service, Lt David Buell of the Massachusetts State Police, Det. Kim Bertelli-Hunt, who read a poem honoring fallen officers, City Council President Peter Marchetti, City Councilors Donna Todd Rivers and Peter White, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, state Sen. Adam Hinds, and Chaplain Russell Moody, who provided the benediction.
The ceremony was similar to those in the past but with one exception. Wynn took a moment to recognize Larry Guay, an honorary officer and longtime friend of the department. Guay died of cancer in January.
"Larry didn't answer calls for service. But he answered every call for service that every member of department ever needed and he was very much a part of our organization and he is very much missed," Wynn said.
After a short reception, Wynn gave commendations officers and departments for work on particular events over the last year or so. Those commendations are typically given inside the chief's office but this year he opted to give some of those out publicly after the ceremony.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
We show up at hurricanes, budget meetings, high school games, accidents, fires and community events. We show up at celebrations and tragedies and everything in between. We show up so our readers can learn about pivotal events that affect their communities and their lives.
How important is local news to you? You can support independent, unbiased journalism and help iBerkshires grow for as a little as the cost of a cup of coffee a week.