Recognizing those who put themselves in harm's way on a daily basis, National Police Week (which started May 13 and continues through May 19) is meant to highlight the dedication of those in the law enforcement profession and pay tribute to the local, state, and federal peace officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty.
Specifically, one day during the week — Peace Officers Memorial Day — is set aside to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. The Newton Police Department and Harvey County Sheriff's Office (along with other local first responders) came together to honor those officers' memories during a ceremony on Tuesday outside the law enforcement center, a meaningful gesture in the eyes of Chaplain Ray Nicodemus.
"It's an important day," Nicodemus said. "I think we do this for our military and we do this for our law enforcement officers so we don't forget."
Four local officers — Carlos B. King, Albert "Jack" Dufriend, Harry L. Bolin and Kurt Ford — who lost their lives while on duty were remembered, with their final days of service recalled followed by a moment of silence.
Thinking of those officers who had gone before, the intense nature of the job was a common theme among the members of the Community Chaplain Response Team who spoke at the ceremony. Chaplain Steve Brecheisen talked about his own dedication amidst the numerous harrowing situations he has faced over the years, but he knew he — along with his fellow officers — had been put in this position for a reason.
"You're here because this is what you're supposed to do," Brecheisen said. "You're here because this is what you're made to do, this is what you're built to do, this is what you're designed to do."
While prayers were offered seeking healing and closure for the families and friends of those officers who lost their lives on the job, plenty were also said for those currently serving in local law enforcement who Nicodemus noted are "protecting and preserving our peace."
Given the dangers inherent to the job, Nicodemus closed Tuesday's ceremony praying for health, strength, joy and pease among the Newton and Harvey County communities — and that the perils of the work as law enforcement officers are not a constant burden.
"Let the evil that they stand against and between ... let it not affect their lives," Nicodemus said, "and let it not enter their homes or enter their dreams."