The Kansas City Missouri Police Department held its annual memorial service May 23 in front of Police Headquarters to honor its 119 police officers killed in the line of duty.
The ceremony included an honor guard, a 21-gun salute, the KCPD Color Guard, bagpipers, a flyover by the police helicopter, and a horse that represented fallen officers.
Officer Christian Singleton read the names of all KCPD officers killed in the line of duty – the first in 1881 and the last in 2001. There were 119 flags on display representing each of these officers. For 119 hours preceding the service, dispatchers read one officer’s name per hour over the police radio system.
Nathaniel Faulkner and Mary Faulkner, the son and widow of fallen Kansas City Kansas Police officer Stephen Faulkner, spoke about their loss.
Mary Faulkner said the last words her husband said to her were to keep their children safe if anything happened to him, and that is what she has done.
“I am still in love with Steve,” Faulkner said. “It hurts so much because I love him so much… I want to thank all the officers for all you do. You are the thin blue line between chaos and stability.”
Mary Faulkner also said it is important to appreciate every ordinary day. Officer Jason Cooley said these words resonated with him and reminded him of the importance of togetherness.
“I think about my little ones and putting them to bed and kissing them goodnight,” Cooley said. “It’s the daily routine, but what it tells me in life is that you really have to stop and smell the roses and enjoy and appreciate every moment you’ve got with your friends and family and soak it in, because we’re not promised tomorrow.”
Cooley said this memorial service made him emotional because it reminded him of his brother, a sergeant who died from a heart attack.
“My heart goes out to all the families,” Cooley said. “This gives you a whole new appreciation for those that sacrificed. Even as a police officer, I don’t think about it every day, but this is a stark reminder of the risks we take and the effects on the families left behind. I think about my kids and family and what they’ve already been through, and it’s very, very emotional.”
Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith said this is an important day for the police department, because it’s the one day they have to honor fellow officers and their families.
“I’m glad we could honor the families that have sacrificed a lot to be here,” Chief Smith said. “I don’t think we can ever forget. There’s people who have died here many, many years ago, but I think it’s up to us as a department and as a city to remember them.”
Police Sergeant Jake Becchina said the police department is proud to honor those who have died in the line of duty and he wants to thank the community for the support.
“That support means the world to us,” Becchina said. “We swear an oath to go out and protect the community, and we know going out there every day that that could be our last day. To honor those officers and their families who have made the ultimate sacrifice is something that’s really important to us.”