ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The annual honoring of deceased police officers drew about 200 people to Civic Plaza on Tuesday for a ceremony that included the release of white doves along with the reading of names of those local officers who have died while on duty throughout the state’s history.
Five names were added to the list since last year’s Law Enforcement Week memorial ceremony, including Jose Chavez, from Hatch, Clint Corvinus, from Alamogordo, Ryan Thomas, from Valencia County, Steve Ackerman, from Lea County, and Houston James Largo, from the Navajo Nation.
The ceremony in Downtown Albuquerque focused on law enforcement officers from Bernalillo, Sandoval and Valencia counties who have died while on duty, totalling 38 agents since 1868.
“There will never be a time when we forget your sacrifices,” said County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins.
Law enforcement agents are, she said, the ones who “confront evil, danger, anger and depravity” every day. She encouraged those in attendance to “recommit… so that we are worthy of the life they made possible for us.”
Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden told the crowd that this annual memorial ceremony can be a painful reminder for surviving family and friends of police who have been killed.
“We can not imagine what your hardest days are,” he said, addressing the survivors in the audience. “We owe it to you to honor them.”
Mayor Richard Berry said that for him the ceremony is a reminder and a message that “we are a community.”
“We grieve together, heal together, but more than anything, we will cherish each other,” he said, from the stage, surrounded by other elected and appointed officials.
As with each year, the crowd stood as the names of all the local officers killed were read and white doves were released with each name. The reading was followed by a 21-gun salute and a fly-over by the some police helicopters.
Nationally in 2016, there were 135 police officers killed, which is the highest level since 2011 but one of the lower five levels noted on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on-duty fatalities chart, which begins with the year 1966. The highest recorded number of officer deaths in a year was in 1930 with 307 officer deaths, with a more recent spike in 1974 with 280 killed.