LIHUE — Taps played in the background while flags flew at half mast and people bowed their heads to honor police officers around the nation who died on the job.
“We are here to honor our law enforcement brothers and sisters who died in the line of duty,” Darryl Perry, chief of the Kauai Police Department, said Tuesday. “Today we take a few moments of our lives to pay respect to them.”
Perry, along with KPD sergeant Anthony Morita and Mary Kay Hertog, chair of the Police Commission, spoke about the dangers of the job.
“Freedom does not come without a price. Sometimes we take for granted the liberties we enjoy in America — but they have all been earned by the ultimate sacrifice paid by so many,” Perry said.
On average, one officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the U.S. every two days. Annually, over 15,000 officers are physically assaulted and about 150 officers are killed, Perry said.
Across the nation, 50 officers have died since the beginning of 2017, according to statistics on the Officer Down Memorial Page.
“It is for them and those that came before that we are here today,” Perry said. “It is also for the families of those officers who too have suffered greatly.”
During the ceremony, the KPD recruit class read the names of the 48 officers in Hawaii who died on the job, the earliest in 1901.
“We all know being a police officer is dangerous. It’s one of the few professions when a man or woman puts on their uniform, they know there’s a possibility they won’t make it back alive,” Hertog said. “But every day, these men and women push back that fear, put on their uniform and do what they swore to do, which is to protect and serve their community.”
Hertog also described the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., which bears the names of fallen officers, going back to the 1700s.
Over 20,000 names are printed on the walls. And in 2016, 135 were etched in the stone, Hertog said.
“To the police officers here today, it is your goal to never ever have your name etched on this wall,” she said. “Be safe every single day.”