TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Kansas will honor law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line and ultimately lost them in the line of duty in 2021 during a candlelight vigil and ceremony the May 5 and 6.
In honor of National Police Week and National Peace Officers Day, Kansas Highway Patrol says the Sunflower State is set to host its annual law enforcement commemoration ceremony. law on Friday, May 6, with a candlelight vigil on Thursday, May 5. The community was encouraged to attend.
The KHP said the annual candlelight vigil, sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliaries, Topeka #3, will be held at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Statehouse’s first-floor rotunda area. He said a candle-lighting ceremony would follow the vigil at the Kansas Law Enforcement Monument in the northeast quadrant of the Statehouse grounds.
KHP noted that the annual ceremony will be held Friday at noon in the second floor rotunda of the Statehouse. He said a wreath laying ceremony will follow at the Kansa Law Enforcement Monument.
In 2022, KHP said six names had been added to the monument:
- Officer Freddie Joe Castro, Overland Park Police Department, end of watch: August 31, 2021 – Freddie Joe Castro, 23, was a police officer with the OPD for two years and responded daily to calls for service involving people suspected of having COVID-19. In July 2021, he tested positive for the virus and was later hospitalized. On August 31, after a short battle with the virus, he succumbed to medical complications following his exposure. He is survived by his mother, a sister and a brother.
- Deputy Stephen Mark Evans, Butler Co. Sheriff’s Office, End of Supervision: October 24, 2021 –Stephen Mark Evans, 44, served as a deputy in the sheriff’s office for just over a year after 16 years with Kansas Corrections. At the time of his death, he was working part-time as chief of police for the town of Burns. While traveling south on K-77, he saw a suspected stolen vehicle moving in the opposite direction. When he turned around, his vehicle was struck from behind by another vehicle traveling south. He succumbed to his serious injuries at the scene of the accident. He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
- Officer Kerry Dean Dick, Rossville Police Department, end of watch: November 29, 2021 –Kerry Dean Dick, 53, served with RPD as a part-time officer for 14 years. In early November, he responded to calls for help from someone suspected of COVID-19. On November 16, he tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized the same day. On November 29, after a short battle with the virus, he succumbed to medical complications from his exposure. He is survived by his wife.
- Officer Theodore James Ohlemeier, Colwich Police Service End of Watch: December 8, 2021 – Theodore James Ohlemeier, 58, was a 33-year-old veteran police officer and has served the CPD for the past three years. In late November, he responded to calls for service and arrested people suspected of having COVID-19. On December 3, he tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized. On December 8, after a short battle with the virus, he succumbed to medical complications from his exposure. He is survived by his daughter and a sister.
- Deputy Stacy Anette Murrow, Linn Co. Sheriff’s Office, End of Watch: December 27, 2021 – Stacy Anette Murrow, 49, was a 21-year veteran sheriff’s deputy in the sheriff’s office and responded daily to work assignments and calls for service involving people suspected of having COVID-19. In December 2021, she tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized. After her hospitalization, she returned home for a short stay before a relapse. On December 27, after a short battle with the virus, she succumbed to medical complications following her exposure. She is survived by her wife and daughter.
- Special Agent James lee David, Missouri Pacific Railroad, end of shift: May 17, 1923 – James Lee David, 41, has been tasked with patrolling the Leavenworth rail yards due to a wave of freight car thefts. In the early morning hours of May 17, 1923, along with another special agent, he saw two men trying to break into a freight car. When officers attempted to arrest the suspects, they responded with gunfire. In the ensuing shootout, David was killed and the suspects escaped. At the time, he was survived by his wife and two daughters.
In honor of National Police Week and National Day of Remembrance for Peace Officers, KHP said it will join the concerns of police survivors for Project Blue Ribbon. Soldiers will tie blue ribbons to agency-owned vehicles and encourage residents to do the same to remember the officers who made the ultimate sacrifice. He said the project also honors those who work every day and put their lives on the line. He said a limited supply of official COPS ribbons will be available at local troop headquarters.
In 2021, KHP noted that 458 officers were killed in the line of duty in the United States. As of April 19, 2022, he said 85 officers had been killed in the line of duty.
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