2014 Imperial Valley Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony was held
Friday May 2nd, on the footsteps of the El Centro Courthouse.
Thirty-nine flags gently hung as the lives of 39 fallen Valley officers were honored Friday night at the annual Imperial Valley Law Enforcement Memorial.
“Every officer has taken an oath that they’re essentially pledging to lay down their life rather than swerve from the path of justice and these 39 did just that,” said Wes Boerner, California Highway Patrol officer and president of the Imperial Valley Law Enforcement Memorial Committee. “Any job where you have to wear a bulletproof vest and gun every day has inherent danger and you accept that risk.”
Each flag bore a miniature biography of its respective fallen officer.
Today marks the 37th anniversary of the death of El Centro Police Officers John A. Vickers and Arthur Hennesay, who were shot and killed May 3, 1977, when they were ambushed at a disturbance call.
In 1956, Westmorland Police Department Harry Miller was shot and killed by a man who had sworn revenge against the chief for several previous arrests. In 1985, Special Agent Enrique Camarena of the Drug Enforcement Administration was abducted, tortured and murdered by drug traffickers. And on Dec. 30, 1995, Sgt. Robert Taylor of the Westmorland Police Department died from a heart attack near his patrol car.
His widow Kim Taylor attended the ceremony on Friday and was presented with the folded U.S. flag following a flag-folding ceremony.
“It’s wonderful that so many different agencies and people participate in this. It’s a big volunteer effort,” she said. “It’s kind of bittersweet to come but it’s also very nice that they do this every year.”
Taylor said every year she meets someone who knew her husband and shares a story from their time with him that she hadn’t heard before.
“He really enjoyed his job working in Westmorland,” she said. “It’s a small community and I still meet people who knew him as a kid.”
As the fallen officers’ name were read aloud, a representative from that agency rang a bell before standing at attention on the Imperial County Superior Courthouse steps.
The ceremony also featured a motorcade procession of all the Imperial County agencies, a special reception for surviving family members, guest speakers from various agencies, a 21-gun salute, a riderless horse, a flag-folding ceremony, playing taps and “Amazing Grace,” a moment of silence and a candlelight vigil.
The Imperial Valley Law Enforcement Memorial Committee was formed in 2009 to honor Valley law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. It is a subsection of the Imperial Valley Historical Society, and the committee is working to establish a permanent law enforcement memorial outside the Pioneers Museum near the already established military memorial.
Also, a permanent display at the law enforcement exhibit within the museum will feature specific information on each fallen officer.
The committee is collecting donations and hosts fundraisers to both design and build the memorial as well as to maintain the permanent display.
“This is just one time of the year to honor them,” said Boerner. “That’s something people could go to any day of the year to recognize the sacrifice.”
Donations can also be made through the Imperial County Historical Society, 373 E. Aten Road, Imperial, CA 92251. The federal tax ID number is 95-4108550. Checks should be noted “for the IVLEM.”
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org
*For more information or to make donations, write to the IVLEM Committee at: email@example.com
Donations can also be made through the Imperial County Historical Society:
373 E. Aten Rd, Imperial, CA 92251-9653
Federal Tax ID#: 95-3108550
Please note on check: "For the IVLEM"
Site sponsored by Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club: Chapter: CA X, http://blueknightsca-x.org/