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Remembering the fallen

Bremerton Police Chief Craig Rogers addresses the audience at Monday’s Kitsap County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony. - Photo by Kassie Korich
Bremerton Police Chief Craig Rogers addresses the audience at Monday’s Kitsap County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony.
— image credit: Photo by Kassie Korich

The melancholy sound of “Taps” echoed through the Bremerton City Council Chamber as the names of fallen law enforcement officers from around the nation flashed across the screen.

Remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, community members gathered Monday to pay tribute at the Kitsap County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony.

“Today is a day in which we honor those peace officers who, through their courageous deeds, have lost their lives or have become disabled in the performance of their duties,” Bremerton Police Chief Craig Rogers said.

He spoke of the flags that flew half-mast on Monday to honor the 17,500 law enforcement officers nationwide who have been killed since the first recorded death of an officer in 1792.

“The only other regularly scheduled time for flags to be lowered to half-staff occurs on Memorial Day, when we remember those killed in our armed forces,” he explained. “Lowering the flag is an appropriate way to show our respect for those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice and to remember the family, friends and colleagues left behind.”

The memorial service honored the 155 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty nationwide in 2005. Of those, a staggering 62 deaths were a result of traffic-related incidents with shootings taking a close second at 60 deaths.

“Around the nation, our state and our county — and around the clock, law enforcement officers are on the front lines of the fight for public safety and security,” Rogers said. “Community memorials such as ours light the way for greater public understanding of the vital role of law enforcement in protecting lives, property and civic order every day of the year. Our officers also recognize their duty to serve the people by safeguarding life and property, by protecting them against violence and disorder, and by protecting the innocent against deception and the week against oppression.”

Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer spoke of the state capitol’s Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial, dedicated earlier this month.

“Take a few minutes to visit the memorial,” he said to those who gathered Monday to honor the fallen.

The names of 270 Washington state law enforcement officers are forever etched into the memorial.

Of those names are six officers from Kitsap County who have died in the line of duty in the last 75 years: Agent Johnny A. Masengale of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), May 6, 1992; Officer Michael Erdal of the Department of Corrections, May 29, 1985; Deputy Dennis R. Allred of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), April 19, 1978; Sheriff Paul R. Blankenship, Dec. 21, 1940; Sheriff Daniel L. Blankenship (brother of Paul), Nov. 4, 1934; Investigator George V. Trabing of the U.S. BATF, Aug. 18, 1931.

“These law enforcement officers swore an oath to protect and serve our neighborhoods and community,” Rogers said. “They made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety of their communities.”

The posting and retiring of colors was performed collaboratively by the Bremerton Police and Kitsap County Sheriff’s color guards. In keeping with tradition, a wreath was dedicated in honor of Allred who was only 30 years old when he was gunned down. His mother Dorothy, as well as other family members, attended Monday’s ceremony.

“He just loved his job,” she said of her son. “He always wanted to be a law enforcement officer since he was a boy.”

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