Very few occupations carry the risk of being killed on the job. Being a law enforcement officer is one, and at Sunday's 11th annual memorial service honoring Quad-Cities officers, three names of those killed in the line of duty were added.|
All three died decades ago, but their specific causes of death only recently were discovered, said Moline Police Sgt. Terry Garmon, president of the Quad-Cities Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
"These deaths that occurred we never knew about," he said of Robert J. Card of the Illinois State Police (killed Aug. 12, 1930), Fred. W. Scott of the Rock Falls Police Department (June 7, 1937), and Harold T. Swanson of the Altona (Ill.) Police Department (Jan. 23, 1965).
"It's a challenge for us, Sometimes the agencies don't even exist anymore," Sgt. Garmon said, referring to the small Knox County village of Altona, whose law enforcement is handled by the county and state police. "Department record-keeping, with the change of personnel, makes it a challenge."
At a formal ceremony at the memorial (in front of the Rock Island County Justice Center), Davenport Pastor Curtis Fee, the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Chaplain, read the names of each of the 46 officers killed and their death date — starting with Thomas D. Moore of Muscatine on July 12, 1869, and ending with Adam V. Streicher of Stark County (Ill.) on March 22, 2002.
As the names were read, a family member or representative of the officer's department placed a flower on a circular sign that said, "Some Gave All." As she has done every year for 11 years, Mary Johnson, of Geneseo, put a flower on what became a memorial wreath to honor her son Todd, a 24-year-old unpaid Rock Island auxiliary police officer who was killed in a freak training accident on Oct. 20, 1993, in Cambridge, Ill.
In the incident, Officer Johnson was demonstrating how criminals work in pairs, with one distracting the officer while the other shoots him. A third officer took Mr. Johnson's gun, she said, and, without knowing he had reloaded it, pointed it at him and pulled the trigger at point-blank range.
The memorial service is important "so the community knows that every time they see a police officer out there, they're not trying to get you. They're there to help you," Ms. Johnson said. "And to let people know it's a dangerous job." She added the support she has received from the law enforcement community and the public at large is "wonderful."
"This is a reminder to all officers — from rookie to chief — that the profession we have chosen puts us in danger every day," said Capt. Jeff Patterson, Illinois State Police District 7 Commander. "You are that thin blue line between good and evil. You are the protectors and the guardians."
People join law enforcement to make a real difference, and that it's a "more a way of life than just a job," he said. "I pray we never again have to add another name to this wall of honor."
With lights flashing, a procession of law enforcement vehicles traveled to the justice center in Rock Island from New Life Fellowship Church in Moline, where a memorial service, with music and video, was held earlier in the afternoon. It included a performance of the song, "If Heaven," by Colona Police Officer Wyatt Heyvaert, which featured the line, "I ain't afraid to die."
"It's a glamour-less, thankless job that's got to be done," said part of a police video created by Sgt. Harmon. Pastor Rick McGough of New Life Fellowship handed him a check for $1,100 for the memorial, collected earlier Sunday from his church congregation.
"Thank you for your service to our communities," Pastor McGough said, after leading a standing ovation for the officers and their families. "They place their lives on the line in sacrifice for the peace, security and safety of our communities."
Law enforcement officers follow the example of Jesus, who sacrificed his life for others, the pastor said. In their work, they show "their love for their families, their communities, and their nation," he said.
Moline Police Capt. Trevor Fisk told the "Gold Star" families (of those officers who died on the job) that their loved ones never will be forgotten. "You are our family. We promise we will always be there for you." Sunday's services were meant to bring comfort to these families, he said.
The memorial at the county justice center will be expanded, including plans for a sitting area, and electronic (and weather-protected) kiosks to tell more details about all the officers it honors, Sgt. Garmon said. The three added names have not yet been inscribed on the memorial, at 1317 3rd Ave., Rock Island.
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