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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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MEMORIAL—Officers and deputies from the Marinette Police Department and Marinette County Sheriff’s Department took part in a Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony Monday, May 12 at the Law Enforcement Center in Marinette. Purpose of the memorial was to honor and remember officers killed in the line of duty and dedicated to those who serve. Sheriff Jerry Sauve acted as master of ceremonies for the program. Honor Guard made up of officers and deputies prepare for the 21 gun salute.

Over 100 Pay Tribute To Law Enforcement Officers

Over 100 people jammed the entrance lobby at the Marinette County Law Enforcement Center on a drizzly Monday, May 12 for ceremonies in tribute to the men and women who serve on Marinette County Sheriff’s Office and Marinette City Police Department (MPD).

Speakers included Sheriff Jerry Sauve; retired Marinette County Circuit Court Judge and former D.A. Tim Duket, and Nancy Thelen, Regional Detention Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections

Initial plans were to hold the annual Law Enforcement Memorial event outdoors, but Sheriff Sauve said, as rain fell, that the weather didn’t look promising, so chairs for the approximately 100 persons attending were moved indoors.

The event opened with presentation of colors by an honor guard made up of personnel from the Sheriff’s Office and the MPD, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by MPD Chief John Mabry. Father Ryan Ford offered the opening reflections and prayer. Closing reflection and prayer was given by Pastor Archer Leupp. TAPS was played by Deputy Fred Popp, and there was a 21-gun salute, fired outside, under the Law Enforcement Building’s entrance canopy.

In his welcome remarks Sauve gave a brief history of Police Officers Memorial Day on May 15, and designation of the week in which it falls as Law Officer’s Week. President John F. Kennedy signed the law establishing Police Officers Memorial Day in 1962. Flags on government buildings are to be flown at half mast on that day, in honor of officers who fell in the line of duty during the past year, and as a reminder that officers place their lives in danger every day. In 1982 the first small gathering was held in Washington Memorial Park, and since then the memorial services have spread and become traditions all across the nation.

Sauve reported that 49 law enforcement officers died from on-duty accidents in the United States, and 27 died from felonious assaults. Those numbers were better than in 2012, when 48 officers were murdered, some on duty and some off. The number of those who died in on-duty accidents again was 49.

“This is my 30th year of service in the Marinette County Sheriff’s Office,” Sauve reported. He said the number of very dangerous calls in this county has increased sharply in the past decade, largely due to the growth in drug abuse problems, and officers put their lives in danger daily.

Father Ford, chaplain for nine months for Menominee officers and 5 months for those in Marinette city and county, offered some brief reflections and an opening prayer.

He said he has frequently ridden with officers, and witnessed their dedication and love for the people of the community, and witnessed the physical, mental and spiritual strain their work puts on them. “They often see people at the lowest point in their lives,” Father Ryan said. “Hardest to see is the effect bad decisions have on the children.”

He said officers see many bad things, ways need to keep in mind the good. “It is a good thing that you do. Putting yourself in danger for the sake of others is good...Thank you for not running away from danger... For being willing to offer up your lives.”

He acknowledged that there are things like contract negotiations and earning a living, but urged, “Please... Whatever pay you receive... Don’t make it the primary purpose of your work!”

He prayed for an end to addiction, and an end to violence, and that officers not let the bad things they see make them forget the good in people.

Thelen noted that the week of May 4 through 10 was National Corrections Officers week, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, and characterized Corrections Officers as some of the unsung heroes who “play a very key role in the protection and security of our communities...We’d be remiss if we didn’t include them in our thoughts today.”

This year, in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker declared May 5 through 9 as Corrections Officers Week.

Thelen said during her nine years with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections she and Marinette County Sheriff’s Department personnel have developed a good partnership.

“The level of commitment here is highly commendable,” she declared, adding that correction officers here serve, “with the utmost integrity,selfless commitment to their jobs, total professionalism .... which is a reflection of the leadership in this department.”

She thanked Sheriff Sauve and Jail Administrator Bob Majewski, “for their ongoing dedication and a true partnership...they do make a difference!”

Sauve noted April 14 through 18 was National Telecommunications Week, and introduced Kirsten Bellisle, head of the Marinette County Dispatch/911 Communications Department.

“The dispatchers and 911 people generally go unnoticed unless things go wrong,” Sauve commented. He said they need to remain calm when things get hectic, as dispatchers are the lifeline for officers on the job.

Next, Sauve introduced “A true friend of Law Enforcement in Marinette County , the Honorable Judge Tim Duket.” Duket noted he was District Attorney for 10 years before he became a judge, and recalled a few of the many long time officers who served as his mentors on the job. Among those he named were Craig Bates, Don Hawley, Fred Carl, Robert Kuhlman, Mike Perry, Harold Techmeier, Pat Ravet, Jeff Skorik, Tom Hartwig, Paul Kueber, Brian Peth, and several more. “Those names still resonate with me as people who were very dedicated to the cause,” Duket declared.

The retired judge noted he sometimes teaches a class on the Wisconsin Concealed Carry Law, but expressed regret about some of the recent treatment of officers who use deadly force against people that are often mentally unbalanced, intoxicated, on drugs, or extremely angry, and armed with a gun.

He mentioned last week in Texas an officer shot and killed a 90-year-old woman and was summarily fired, without an investigation. “The woman might have been frail,” he said, “but she was armed with a gun.”

Last year an officer in Milwaukee also shot and killed someone that witnesses said didn’t appear threatening, “but he had a gun.”

He said in these confrontations with highly agitated people, there is almost never any shooting until after officers have repeatedly asked them to put down their guns. In more than a few cases the person with the gun intends to commit suicide by having an officer shoot them. This has happened in Marinette County, Duket said, citing two incidents in the recent past, including one in which a son said his 82-year-old father stated he intended to get police to kill him.

Then there was Scott Johnson in 2008, who killed three teenagers at the bridge in Niagara, and went armed into the woods. He had declared he wanted to kill officers. “Within hours, hundreds of officers responded,” Duket said. “They came willingly to help, putting their own lives in danger.” A day later Johnson surrendered. Duket said officers wanted to get the situation under control and come home safe and sound, and they did.

Officers often forgotten when danger is mentioned are those who provide courtroom security. “We don’t often have violence in a courtroom,” Duket said, but added ti does happen. He recalled when a 237-pound defendant threatened witnesses and was put down by the officers on duty. Mainly, however, courthouse security work to defuse situations so confrontations do not happen.

“I feel safe in Marinette County,” Duket said. “I think it’s a tribute to all the law enforcement officers in Marinette County that they have given us a safe and secure environment.”

The ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute, fired outside, under the canopy, doors to the lobby open, followed by TAPS.

Pastor Leupp, of Faith Baptist Church of Peshtigo, said he has served as Sheriff’s Department Chaplain for five years, and recently started as chaplain for Peshtigo Police Department. He said God established governments and the rule of law, and described law enforcement officers as “swords for peace and justice.”

He said they go about their duties “protected by two or three ounces of metal.”

He prayed for officers who have fallen, and for the living and their families. He asked protection for them, “...not just physically, but from the emotional and mental stresses of their jobs,” and asked that they do not allow those jobs to taint their home lives, or cause them to develop callousness to the problems of others.

Formal retiring of colors by the Sheriff’s Office and MPD Color Guard concluded the event.


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