ALAMOSA — In the United States, approximately 900,000 law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day for the safety and protection of others. Each year, there are roughly 60,000 assaults on law enforcement officers, resulting in 16,000 injuries.
Over the last decade, an average of 150 officers annually have lost their lives in the line of duty with an average of one law enforcement officer being killed every 58 hours somewhere in the United States.
Those figures, shared by Alamosa Police Chief Ken Anderson with the crowd gathered Wednesday night in front of the Alamosa Police Station, set the context for this year’s San Luis Valley Peace Officers Memorial ceremony.
“Tonight, we are here to pay tribute to the law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and to voice our appreciation to all those who currently serve on the front lines of the battle against crime,” Chief Anderson said.
The significance of the ceremony was enhanced even more when Alamosa County Sheriff Robert Jackson read off the names of those in the San Luis Valley who have fallen in the line of duty.
Alamosa Police Department’s Cpl. Ryan Veneman and Detective Brandon Bertsch contributed to the ceremony with a prayer and poem, respectively, as well as Alamosa County Sheriff Office Deputy Investigator Jessica Randon, who performed Taps on the trumpet.
Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman, whose mother was a police officer in Houston, Texas, also addressed the crowd, acknowledging the tremendous debt owed to law enforcement officials by the communities they serve. He then recited, from memory, a poem titled “Don’t Quit.”
The Honor Guard paid tribute with a three-volley rifle salute.
A community dinner was held at the fire station following the ceremony.
The ceremony was held as part of Police Week with May 15 designated as National Peace Officers Memorial Day, first signed into proclamation by President John F. Kennedy on Oct. 1, 1962.
Law enforcement officers, family members, local officials and members of the public were among those who gathered to honor those who sacrificed their lives in service of so many.
Historically, according to Anderson, in the region 15 law enforcement officials have lost their lives. Following are the names of some of the fallen officers:
ALAMOSA POLICE DEPARTMENT
City Marshal Charles Emerson
City Marshal Joseph R. Simons
CENTER POLICE DEPARTMENT
Officer Oliver P. Cain
COLORADO STATE PATROL
Trooper Joseph A. Ynostroza
CONEJOS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Deputy Sheriff Raymundo Martinez
Deputy Sheriff Eduardo Dominguez
COSTILLA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Sheriff Jose Adolfo Rodriguez
Deputy Sheriff Rudolpho Filberto Sanchez
MONTE VISTA POLICE DEPARTMENT
Night Marshall Clyde McDonald
Assistant Chief Guy Everett O’Neal
RIO GRANDE SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Under Sheriff Zack Allen
Deputy Rafael Peña