On Thursday May 8, 2014, the LAPD held its annual Police Memorial Ceremony in the Ronald F. Deaton Auditorium at the Police Administration Building.
It was a very difficult ceremony as the LAPD family has experienced great tragedy in the last three months with the death of three officers in the line of duty, March 7, 2014 Officer Nicholas Lee, Hollywood Area; April 9, 2014 Officer Christopher Cortijo, Valley Traffic Division; May 3, 2014, Officer Roberto Sanchez, Harbor Area.
“If you gave your life in the line of duty in the City of Los Angeles we will never forget,” said Assistant Chief Sandy Jo McArthur. “It’s a celebration of life and it is about recognizing those who gave their lives serving both our country as well the City of Los Angeles.”
Kendall, daughter of fallen Officer Lee, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Each officer was individually honored in Roll Call of Heroes. Family members in attendance stood as the picture of their loved one was shown in the memorial video along with their end of watch.
“Police work is one of the most noble professions,” said Chief of Police Charlie Beck. “It’s a profession that from day one you recognize you may give up your life for a stranger, you may give up your life for someone you will never meet. Unfortunately that has occurred far too often.”
“Nothing is more challenging than being a police officer in a free society,” said Glynn Martin, executive director of the Police Historical Society, as he did a 25 year remembrance presentation. Mr. Martin quoted the passage from the1970 LAPD annual report. Mr. Martin remembered Detective Kelly Key and Detective Norman Eckles, narcotics officers who suffered gun shots wounds and died from complications in 1989. Detective Key was shot in 1970 and Detective Eckles was shot in 1983.
Unveiled at the ceremony were two street signs for Officers Lee and Cortijo. Commander Rick Web, Office of Administrative Services, announced over the next six months all 207 fallen officers will be paid tribute with a street sign placed at the location where they expired. Each sign will have a number visitors can enter on a website that will serve as a virtual memorial providing additional information about the officer. Street signs for officers killed outside the City or country will be placed near the police station they were assigned or the Police Academy. Commander Webb invited everyone to visit the first street sign erected two days ago for Policeman Edward E. Willhoit at the intersection of 2nd Street and Main Avenue, located behind Deaton Auditorium Policeman Willhoit who was shot and killed in 1924, along with two people who tried to come to his aid.
In the courtyard of the Police Administration Building was the LAPD Mounted Unit configured in a rider less horse formation, signifying the respect to the fallen officers remembered today. On display was the Los Angeles Police Protective League’s traveling End of Watch Memorial Wall. It depicts all six series of LAPD badges in chronological order, with the current LAPD badge in the center with The Eagle & Badge Foundation insignia on the far right. Surrounding the six badges are the names of the LAPD officers who have fallen in the line of duty.
The LAPD Color Guard walked in procession to the LAPD Memorial Wall, carrying the memorial wreathdecorated with a rose for each officer being paid tribute, followed by family and LAPD command staff. The LAPD Air Support Division did an aerial salute with the missing man formation.
May is National Police month. Law enforcement agencies across the country. In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15th falls as National Police Week.
Addendum: On Friday May 9, 2014, one day after the memorial ceremony, the LAPD family experienced another tragic loss of LAPD Southwest Detective Ernest L. Allen Sr. who was involved in an off-duty traffic collision.