Near the end of a 12-minute ceremony to observe Peace Officers' Memorial Day, Community Chaplain Response Team member Jason Reynolds spent a moment telling those in attendance just why the observance is important — not only to remember the fallen, but to thank those who are currently serving in the community.
"I can confidently say that the scope and degree that events that you all have intervened in and kept this community safe in are very significant," Reynolds said. "We also see people being treated politely during traffic stops and children hanging out with there (School Resource Officers). We see the community being served, not just protected. ... We are so proud of the law enforcement community in all of the cities in Harvey County."
National Police Week, from May 14 to May 20, is a time where citizens across the nation are able to pay tribute to the local, state and federal peace officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty.
Peace Officers' Memorial Day, which falls within National Police Week, was observed in Newton at 11:30 a.m. on May 18, at the monument in front of the Harvey County Law Enforcement Center (120 E. Seventh St.) bearing the names of fallen officers from Harvey County.
Each of those names, along with a description of what brought the officer or deputy's watch to an end, was read by Steve Bercheisen of the Community Chaplain Response Team. Those names included Carlos B. King, whose end of watch was Sept. 23, 1871; Albert "Jack" Dufriend, whose end of watch was Nov. 22, 1928; Harry L. Bolin, whose end of watch was June 17, 1932; and Kurt Ford, whose end of watch was April 9, 2005.
It was Ford who Chaplain Brad Penner reflected on most during his remarks — he noted that there were members of the crowd in attendance who worked with Ford prior to his death.
"For some of you, this moment takes on meaning others of us do not fully understand," Penner said. "You were with Kurt Ford on April 9, 2005, on that fateful and tragic night. For you, an image, a sound or a smell sets you back, causes you to have thoughts and feelings where you relive moments and remember things. You remember Kurt."
Harvey County Sheriff's Deputy Kurt Ford, a member of the Harvey County Emergency Response Team (ERT), along with the rest of the ERT, responded to assist Newton police officers for a hostage call-out.
Three hours into the standoff, the suspect started to attack the hostage. The ERT team made a forced entry and was met with gunfire from the suspect, who had two handguns. Ford was fatally shot in the head, and another ERT member was shot twice, but survived.
"We want to remember Kurt's selfless sacrifice," Penner said. "We also take this moment to remember those we never knew, but we know of them. We choose to remember because we honor the sacrifice they selflessly made for the well being of all those we hold dear and they hold dear — for the values that motivate each of us to serve as we do, and that is for the safety and well-being of the fellow citizens of the city, county, state and this great nation."