A few weeks ago I got a call from Ramona Oakes from the Forks Bible Church, she asked that I ask the community to join with them and honor and recognized Police Week.
In recognition of law enforcement officers throughout the country, the United States Congress has designated Sunday through Saturday, May 12-18, as Police Week.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation that designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as a week to remember those lives lost in the line of duty.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, crime-fighting has taken its toll. Since the first recorded police death in 1791, there have been more than 23,713 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
During 2018, 163 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty, and a total of 35 officers have already been killed in the line of duty this year.
Firearms-related fatalities and traffic-related fatalities were the leading causes of officer deaths during 2018. Fifty-three officers were shot and killed in firearm-related incidents, and 49 officers were killed in traffic-related incidents.
Sixty-one officers died as a result of other causes in 2018, including heart attack, assault, drowning, fall, hit by a train, and duty-related illness including 9/11 related illness.
There were 28 police K-9 line of duty deaths during 2018 and three more this year.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed a law requiring the American flag to be lowered each year on March 15 as a tribute to the more than 23,713 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
The Town of Forks has seen the loss of one police officer. On March 18, 1960, Forks’ Town Marshal John Rice died while on duty. After struggling with a prisoner, he was attempting to put into a jail cell, Rice died of a heart attack; he was just 48 years old. Rice was a WWII veteran, VFW member, a lover of animals and the outdoors. He had worked for the USFS before becoming the Town Marshal. Born in Virginia, he grew up in Weiser, ID. After serving in the army, on Okinawa, he lived in Tacoma and Aberdeen before moving to Forks.
The Fletcher-Wittenborn VFW and the Northwest Peace Officers Association conducted full military rituals at the services held in Forks.
He left a wife, and three children ages 11, 9, and 6.
In March 1924 the Clallam County Sheriff’s Department lost Sheriff William A. Nelson from a duty related illness and in August 2000 the CCSO saw the death of Deputy Sheriff Wallace Davis from gunfire. On September 20, 2008, there was the tragic loss of USDA Forest Service Officer Kris Fairbanks.
Like those in our armed services, fallen law enforcement officers died while protecting the lives and freedoms of others. Please join with me and the Forks Bible Church this week and remember those that we knew and so many we didn’t that went to do their jobs and didn’t make it back home.
Christi Baron, Editor