Local officers to observe national law enforcement memorial Friday
This Friday, May 15, is National Peace Officers Memorial Day. Law enforcement officers from around the nation, and across Vermont, will join together in socially distanced spirit in remembrance of officers who have died in the line of duty.
Each year an annual ceremony is traditionally held at the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford. This year the pandemic prevented that tradition, but instead it inspired a new one. Officers and their colleagues will stand together in a socially distanced salute both inside and outside of Vermont law enforcement stations, correctional facilities, probation and parole offices, on roadways and at remote workstations, spanning from the Shires to the Northeast Kingdom.
“Law enforcement asks all Vermonters to help us commemorate this event by taking the time to pause at 11:00 a.m. on Friday as a gesture of respect for our fallen officers,” said Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel. “Whether you honk a horn or wave to an officer, or just say ‘thanks’ to an officer, it would mean a lot to all of us. Thank you and please be safe.”
Vermonters will be honoring our own fallen law enforcement officers starting at 6:15 a.m. Friday morning. Former Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon and his wife Karen, long-time supporters of Vermont law enforcement, will place a memorial wreath on a stand in front of the Statehouse flagpole. Following the placement of the wreath, the names of Vermont’s fallen officers will be read. Police cruisers will be parked in front of the Statehouse, with their emergency lights activated.
At 6:30 a.m., Gov. Phil Scott will observe National Peace Officers Memorial Day in front of the Statehouse by raising the flag and then lowering it to half-staff.
At 10:55 a.m., law enforcement officers from around the state will pause to acknowledge the significance of this day, by either by exiting their cruisers or offices, activating their blue lights and coming to the position of attention. Those personnel in offices will come to the position of attention. At 11 a.m. dispatchers will announce the beginning of the moment of silence. Officers will render a salute for a period of one minute, after which they will resume their duties.
“When a person first enters law enforcement, they know it won’t be easy, but they have no idea how hard it really is until they serve,” writes Interim Vermont Corrections Commissioner Jim Baker. “This is a job where people leave for work every day knowing they may never come home. The loss we all feel when they don’t come home — or back to work — can’t be put into words. Our silence, our thoughts and our salutes will say more than we ever could to honor their memories. We hope all Vermonters will stand with us to say ‘thank you, we remember you.’”
The COVID-19 crisis has significantly changed the way law enforcement officers perform their duties. Every day throughout the COVID-19 crisis, law enforcement officers around the state face potential exposure to this virus, not only placing themselves at risk, but also their families. While they acknowledge and prepare for this danger, they continue to do their jobs as law enforcement officers, protecting our communities and safeguarding our highways.