BANGOR, Maine — Two police officers have been killed in the line of duty in Bangor in the past 111 years. One was slain by a bullet fired by a fleeing suspect, the other struck by a drunk driver while directing traffic at the intersection of Dutton and Main Streets.
Patrick H. Jordan and Francis A. Murray were memorialized Thursday, National Peace Officer Memorial Day, during an event at the Bangor Police Department building. A pair of plaques featuring images of the men, the dates of their deaths and the stories of how they died in service will be on display inside the department to remind Bangor residents of the officers’ sacrifice and the dangers police officers face every day, according to Lt. Cathy Rumsey.
Jordan was killed on March 7, 1903. He was on his fifth day as a patrolman with the department when he went to the scene of a domestic disturbance on Carroll Street. The suspect jumped out a window when Jordan arrived and ran away. Jordan pursued the suspect, who fired a shot at the officer, killing him. The shooter was later tracked down and tried.
Jordan’s shooter was ultimately found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Jordan’s granddaughter, 84-year-old Frances Gierhan of Bangor, attended the ceremony. She reached out to the department after hearing that they were looking for descendants of the slain officers.
Gierhan never knew her grandfather, but said she heard a lot about him growing up. She said her parents talked about how much her grandfather loved his job, as brief as it was.
She called the recognition “very special and I appreciate everyone who worked on it.”
Bangor police couldn’t find a descendant of Francis Murray.
Murray was directing drivers at the busy intersection of Main and Dutton streets on June 26, 1950, after the circus let out. A drunk driver struck Murray and fled the scene. Murray, an officer in the city for eight years, died of his injuries two days later. He left behind a wife and two sons. The driver was later found and tried.
“It is my fervent desire and prayer that we never have to put another plaque in here,” Rumsey said.
This week has been a rough one for law enforcement. Brentwood, New Hampshire police Officer Stephen Arkell was gunned down on Monday when he entered a home that later exploded.
“Officers every day come to work not knowing whether they’re going home that night,” Rumsey said, adding that Bangor has been “blessed” to have only two officers killed in the line of duty in more than a century.
The plaques were paid for by funds from the Bangor Police Relief Association, an organization that supports families of officers who have died. The association is funded by dues paid by Bangor officers.
“We will always remember their sacrifice for our department and the city of Bangor,” Bangor police Chief Mark Hathaway said.