Law enforcement personnel who died in the line of duty were remembered Wednesday morning during the annual Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony.
Appropriately, the ceremony was conducted in the park named after the last Salina officer to die in the line of duty, Salina’s Jerry Ivey Park.
“Your presence here speaks volumes for your support of law enforcement,” Salina Police Chief Brad Nelson told the more than 100 persons in attendance. “It means the world to my officers that you took the time out of your day to be here with us.”
Nelson recalled fellow officers who many years earlier said they didn’t want a park named after them because it would mean that they died in the line of duty.
“Unfortunately, this park is named for Salina Officer Jerry Ivey, who was shot and killed while trying to arrest a robbery suspect in 1975. It saddens me that there are probably many Salina citizens that do not know the origin of this park’s name. We must never forget,” Nelson said.
“We are here to honor all of the officers in our great nation who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Nelson continued. “In your program, there are 15 photos of brave officers, deputies, and troopers who knowingly went to work each day placing themselves in harm’s way. These 15 officers did not return home at the end of their shift.”
Salina Mayor Trent Davis noted that Hollywood’s “glamour of a policeman bursting on a crime scene and rounding up the bad guys stands in stark contrast to the reality of placing oneself directly in harm’s way.”
“On a good day, this is the most difficult job in town,” Davis said.
“As Mark Twain said, ‘Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.’ The bravery and courage we honor today rose above that fear,” he said.
In its second year as a part of the Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony, the Fallen Officer Table Ceremony paid tribute to all law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.
“As we gather today, I would like to draw your attention to our special table. The table is set for one. This empty space represents all officers who have fallen in the line of duty,” said Salina Police Sergeant Sarah Cox. “While a setting such as this is used to honor the fallen members of our military, our nation’s heroes, a select few have answered another call, one of daily self-sacrifice to protect others. These heroes are the ones sacrificing their family time, working long hours, and rushing into danger when others flee; our law enforcement officers.”
The table began with a white cloth covering and was set with a single plate, an empty right side up wine glass to the upper right of the plate, a single white candle, lit at the beginning of the ceremony, at the center of the table, and an officer’s uniform hat.
Cox noted that the square table was representative of “the many facets of our officer’s lives; father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter, and citizen hero. The white tablecloth symbolizes the purity of their motives when answering the call for help.”
As Cox explained the meaning of each component of the table, officers took the items to the table, and after placing each item on the table, paused to salute. The items, as explained by Cox, include the following.
“The Bible, opened to Psalm 91, the Protection Psalm, represents the strength gained through our faith in God, who sustains and protects us.
“The red rose represents the danger our fallen officers went through.
“The blue ribbon represents our trust in, and loyalty to, our comrades we work with today.
“The slice of lemon reminds us of the bitter taste that we have after losing a comrade or a loved one. The pinch of salt represents the tears we have shed for our fallen comrades. The wine glass is inverted to represent the inability for the fallen to share in future toasts.”
All officers present were then called to attention and Cox said, “Let us honor our fallen comrades and pray for the success of efforts to minimize line of duty deaths.”
All officers present then saluted.
The Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony concluded with a gun salute and the playing of Taps.
Following are the law enforcement officers who were remembered at the service.
Salina Police Department
Officer John Stonebraker, who died by gunfire during an arrest on February 12, 1917.
Officer Tom Carson, who died by gunfire during an arrest on November 29, 1920.
Officer Olney E. Eaton, who died May 31, 1942, after being struck by a car while he was walking across an intersection after speaking with two other Salina Police officers.
Officer Jerry Ivey, who died by gunfire during an arrest on June 13, 1975.
Saline County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Fred Bell, who died of a heart attack suffered during a courtroom struggle with an alleged murderer on September 17, 1952.
Kansas Highway Patrol
Trooper Maurice R. Plummer, who died in a traffic accident on December 16, 1944, on U.S. Highway 40 west of Russell.
Trooper Jimmie Jacobs, who died in a traffic accident on October 6, 1959, while making an emergency blood run from El Dorado to Eureka.
Trooper John McMurry, who died in a traffic accident on December 9, 1964, after being struck by a drunk driver on Kansas Highway 18 between Manhattan and Ogden.
Lieutenant Bernard Hill, who died in a traffic accident on May 28, 1967, on the Kansas Turnpike.
Sergeant Eldon Miller, who died by gunfire during an arrest of bank robbers on January 19, 1968, in Overland Park.
Trooper James D. Thornton, who died by gunfire while checking a hitchhiker on Interstate 70 east of Topeka on October 2, 1973.
Trooper Conroy O’Brien, who died by gunfire during a traffic stop on the turnpike near Matfield Green on May 24, 1978.
Trooper Ferdinand “Bud” Pribbenow, who died by gunfire during a traffic stop on the turnpike north of El Dorado on July 11, 1981.
Master Trooper Larry L Huff, who died from injuries suffered in a traffic accident on U.S. Highway 81 south of Concordia on November 3, 1993. He died on November 26, 1993.
Master Trooper Dean Goodheart, who died after being struck by a motor vehicle while performing a motor carrier safety inspection on September 6, 1995.