Ten Months After Dallas Police Shooting, Officers Mourn and Remember at National Police Memorial Service

WASHINGTON — As Senior Cpl. Frederick Frazier walked through a crowd of 40,000 people outside the U.S. Capitol on Monday, he was just another officer in a sea of navy blue uniforms. Then other officers saw his Dallas police badge. Suddenly, everyone had something to offer.“I’m sorry for your loss,” one officer said. “Thank you for being here,” said another.Frazier, who is vice president of the Dallas Police Association, nodded. He thanked each person who stopped him. And then he went to meet the family members of the police officers killed in the downtown Dallas ambush on July 7 .More than 10 months after Micah Johnson killed four Dallas officers, one DART police officer and injured seven other officers, as well as two civilians, in a sniper attack, the families of the fallen gathered in Washington for the National Police Week memorial service.On Monday, those families — and tens of thousands of officers from around the globe — gathered outside the U.S. Capitol. They came to hear President Donald Trump and to see their law enforcement family turn out in force. Most important, Frazier said, they came to honor their loved ones, to hear their names read aloud, and to remember.Dallas officers, out in forceNearly 200 Dallas officers flew to Washington for the National Police Week events, including the Monday memorial service. The Dallas Police Choir sang “Amazing Grace” at a candlelight vigil on Saturday night, after raising funds for the trip for several months. The Dallas Police Honor Guard attended, too.Several officers said that by the end of the week, they hoped to visit the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial itself, where there are several newly etched names in the marble. Among those names: Brent Thompson, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer killed in the line of duty, as well as Dallas police Sgt. Michael Smith, Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, and Officers Michael Krol and Patrick Zamarripa.Mike Bartis, who retired from the Dallas police force in December after 33 years, came to the memorial ceremony with his wife, Pam. Since retiring, Bartis has spent most days fixing up homes and visiting with his family. Every day, he reminds himself that those five officers will never have that opportunity.“I came here because it’s just a good way to honor those that have sacrificed the most in their career, because they’re not able to retire, they’re not able to travel with their families,” he said. “I feel obligated to honor them and remember them, because, their sacrifice — it could have just as easily been me.”An international communityIn the massive crowd, every kind of law enforcement officer stood at attention. There were National Park Rangers in khaki and sheriffs wearing their five-pointed stars. British officers saluted in their tall, rounded hats, and the Scots wore hats with distinctive black-and-white checkered bands.Detective Mike McMurray of Dallas said he was offered condolences by officers from Canada, Germany and Australia.And everywhere, by the side of every family member of a fallen officer, there were crowds of navy blue, swapping shoulder patches and exchanging handshakes.Frazier, the Dallas officer, said he has experienced an unprecedented outpouring of love from the global law enforcement community in the months since the shooting. In return, he said, he’ll always be ready to extend a hand to any officer who needs it.Frazier gestured at a passing officer, whose partially obscured badge only had the word “Lewis” visible.“I don’t even know where the hell that’s at,” Frazier said. “But if he needed me, I’d be there for him in a second.”Sgt. Marc Povero of the Fort Worth Police Department said he felt the same way.“It means everything to us to be here for them,” Povero said, talking about the officers and families who’d flown in from Dallas. “Especially with what happened in our sister city to the east, we wanted to come here in force to show support for our Dallas brothers and sisters.”Message from the presidentPresident Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both spoke at the ceremony. Pence offered brief, solemn remarks, noting that “sacrifice and memory” were what brought the law enforcement community to the capital year after year.This is the 36th annual ceremony, though May 15 was first designated as Peace Officers Memorial Day by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.Trump pledged his support to the law enforcement community again and again.“You are the thin blue line between civilization and chaos,” he told the crowd. “Because you do not hear it nearly enough, I want you to know that patriotic Americans of all backgrounds truly support and love our police.“Your loved ones are looking down on you right now, and believe me, they’re very proud,” Trump added, speaking to the families of the fallen.Trump singled out the Dallas officers for particular praise.“We also remember those incredible heroes who were so cruelly targeted for execution in Dallas, Texas, rushing into a hail of gunfire, never to return,” he said. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.”Other fallen Dallas officersThe officers killed in the July ambush weren’t the only Dallas officers honored at the ceremony. Mark McCullers, the Southern Methodist University police officer who drowned in a flood last July, had his name read aloud, as did 13 other Texas officers who died over the course of 2016.On Wednesday, there will be another police memorial ceremony in front of Dallas City Hall.Jim Donahue, who served as a police officer in Inkster, Mich., for 10 years, won’t be there, but he wishes he could. He lives in Florida now. He has no personal connection to any of the officers who died last year in Dallas. But he thinks about them every day.“It’s very different for civilians to understand — this is a group of people who would take a bullet for each other without hesitation,” Donahue said, before the memorial service started.He took a long pause and a deep breath.“When five of my brothers were killed — I can’t give you an analogy for how it feels,” Donahue said. “I don’t know if there is one.”  Continue reading...

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