Police honor fallen comrades at annual ceremony

A gun salute Thursday at the Douglas County Courthouse punctuated a ceremony to honor law enforcement officers who died in the line of service.

Approximately 100 civilians and law enforcement officials gathered for the memorial, held during National Police Week.

Sheriff John Hanlin and Sutherlin Police Chief Kirk Sanfilippo each spoke of the dangers officers face.

“We gather to remember and honor fellow officers that have given their lives and to express gratitude to families that have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Hanlin said.

Hanlin said he has “never-ending respect” for officers who prevent crime, arrest criminals and help victims.

Sanfilippo talked about a friend he lost while working for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office in 1987.

Manny Lopez Jr., 29, was a close friend. The two were workout buddies for more than five years while working on the force together.

On March 3, 1987, Lopez was in a car accident while on duty. He was taken to a hospital and put on life-support.

“I held my friend’s hand at the hospital,” Sanfilippo said.

Sanfilippo watched his friend pass away when he was taken off life-support and later that week eulogized Lopez.

“This means honoring friends. I’ve lost a number of friends in the line of work. A number have personally touched my heart every year,” he said.

Last year, 120 officers nationwide were killed on duty. Thus far, 41 have died in 2013.

Douglas County has lost five officers, including three who were killed in a helicopter accident July 23, 1985. Cpl. Virgle Dewey Knight Jr., Sgt. Gerald G. Chirrick and Special Deputy Ronald Henry Terwilliger died in the accident.

Other deaths include Patrolman Donald Everett DeSues of the Roseburg Police Department, who was killed in The Blast on Aug. 7, 1959. Sheriff’s Deputy Morris L. Taylor was killed by gunfire Sept. 14, 2002.

Former Douglas County Veterans Forum president Jim Little said many veterans attended to honor the fallen.

Many police officers are veterans, which strengthens the bond between the two, he said.

“We respect our police force. We know what it means to lose comrades,” he said.

Hanlin said it is the public’s duty to remember those killed on the job.

“They are our heroes, and we shall never forget them,” he said.

• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or by email at bswanback@nrtoday.com.


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The News-Review Updated May 17, 2013 12:30PM Published May 20, 2013 09:11AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.