The rain held off for a memorial of fallen law enforcement at the Clark County Public Service Center pavilion May 16, a regular ceremony with added weight given the recent death of an officer on duty for one of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office’s partner agencies.
Along with a proclamation from Clark County Councilor Temple Lentz and a speech detailing the trials faced by law enforcement on a daily basis by Clark County Superior Court Judge Daniel Stahnke, Vancouver Police Assistant Chief Troy Price read out the roll call of the eight law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in Clark County. The county’s five fallen K-9s also received honors, read by Clark County Sheriff’s Office Commander KC Kasberg.
Following the speeches and roll calls, a multi-agency color guard raised the American flag to half-mast while retired Clark County Sheriff’s Chief Criminal Deputy Mike Evans played “Amazing Grace” on a trumpet, preceding a 21-gun salute and “Taps” played out by the former chief.
“This has been a yearly event forever,” Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins said following the ceremony. He couldn’t recall a year in his 40-year career with the sheriff’s office that they didn’t have a memorial service.
The memorial is based on legislation signed into law by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 making a Peace Officers Memorial Day an official holiday.
Atkins noted how over the years the families of fallen officers returned every year to remember their loved ones.
This year’s ceremony hit a little closer to home following the on-duty shooting death of Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin DeRosier April 13. Atkins explained that his office took over the investigation of DeRosier’s death and the shooting death of the suspect, Brian Butts, who was killed the day after DeRosier.
Atkins said that since the 2004 on-duty death of Sheriff’s Sgt. Brad Crawford, one of his force, Sgt. Kevin Allais, had been involved with the Behind the Badge foundation that works to honor law enforcement who have fallen in the line of duty. Now Clark County is involved in some way with supporting any agencies who have an on-duty death in Washington and neighboring states.
“It’s overwhelming for the agency to deal with that,” Atkins said. Having groups like Behind the Badge come in to help with arrangements can help take some of the stress off of the officers coping with the loss of one of their own.