DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) - Dubuque law enforcement agencies honored officers who have died at a police memorial service Wednesday morning. National Police Week is the week of May 15.
The week is an observance to remember and celebrate officers who may have died or been disabled in the line of duty.
In the past few months that have passed in 2021, 124 officers across the country have already died. The majority of those deaths were a result of COVID-19.
“Let people know that they were here that they meant something to someone that they were important to someone," Dubuque County Sheriff Joe Kennedy said.
The memorial service was put together by the Dubuque County Chaplain, and is an annual event, paying tribute to those who keep the streets safe for us.
“Maybe for 51 weeks a year police aren’t recognized and there’s a lot of negativity towards police so it’s good that we recognize police at least for that one week every year," Dubuque Chief of Police Mark Dalsing siad.
The event was canceled for the first time because of the pandemic. The virus was a topic of discussion among the various speakers at the service.
In 2020, 234 officers across the country died from COVID-19. Since January 2021, 64 have fallen victim to the virus.
“Our officers didn’t work from home, didn’t shut down, we just put on a mask and went about our duties every day. It added another twist and another risk to an already dangerous career," Chief Dalsing said.
In Iowa, Iowa Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Steven Reighard was one of the COVID-19 deaths, passing away January 8, 2021.
Two other officers who lost their lives this past year were Correctional Officer Robert McFarland following the assault at the Anamosa State Penitentiary in March. Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith was the most recent death. He was shot and killed in Grundy Center in April.
“It really really brings a somber tone to this day and makes it hit home even that much harder," Sheriff Kennedy said, "We do the best we can to make sure they have the best equipment and training and give them the best chance possible to make sure that they make it home every night.”
Chief Dalsing says he understands that negativity toward law enforcement exists, but this week is about remembering those who served and who will continue to respond to 9-1-1 calls to keep everyone safe.
Typically, National Police Week is celebrated on the National level in Washing D.C. However, the in-person ceremonies have been rescheduled for October 13-17 due to pandemic restrictions.
Virtual events for this week are still taking place. Information and links to those events can be found on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website. The first event will be a candelight vigil Thursday May 13 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.