HOULTON, Maine — Officials from local, state and national law enforcement agencies paused for a moment in Aroostook County on Tuesday afternoon to honor fallen officers and remember their sacrifice.
The Houlton Police Department held its fourth annual memorial ceremony at the Houlton Fire Department, which was attended by approximately 25 Houlton police officers, Maine State Police, U.S. Border Patrol agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. Several private citizens and family members also were on hand, as was Aroostook County Assistant District Attorney Kurt Kafferlin.
The event was held in honor of National Police Week, May 13-19.
Under directives from President Barack Obama and Gov. Paul R. LePage, U.S. and state flags were flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on May 15 in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day.
In Houlton on Tuesday, local Police Chief Butch Asselin noted that officers often do a thankless job and put their lives on the line to protect public safety. He said that whenever he hears about the death of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty, he thinks about that officer’s family and friends.
“These are not just faceless individuals to me,” he said, adding that he thinks sometimes that only little “twists of fate” allow him and other officers to go home to their families at night.
According to preliminary statistics released Tuesday by the FBI, 72 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty during 2011.
By region, 29 victims were killed in the South, 21 in the Midwest, 10 each were killed in the West and the Northeast, and two were killed in Puerto Rico. No police officers were killed in Maine.
Offenders used firearms in 63 of the 72 felonious deaths of law enforcement officers in 2011. By type of firearm, 50 officers were killed with handguns; seven with rifles; and six with shotguns. Criminals used vehicles to kill six officers; weapons such as hands, fists and feet to kill two officers; and a knife or cutting instrument to kill one officer.
In addition to the officers who were feloniously killed in 2011, 50 were killed in accidents.
According to the National Law Enforcement officers Memorial Fund, 40 officers have been killed in the U.S. this year.
President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day in 1962, and also named the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week.
Tuesday’s ceremony ended with a moment of silence for the fallen officers.