By: Chief Blake Johnson
On May 11th of this year the Nation will be celebrating Police Week. This is a week that has been set aside to honor the men and women who serve their communities. Police Week was established shortly after President John Kennedy proclaimed May 15 to be Peace Officers Memorial Day in 1962. Since that proclamation, communities have sought to find ways to honor the people who enforce the laws.Read more: Chief’s Desk-Meridian
In December 1991 the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial was dedicated in Washington DC. The names of every officer who died in the line of duty since 1786 are forever inscribed in the limestone walls of the monument. In our nation’s history over 23,000 officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Since the Memorial was dedicated, that week is set aside as police week where the nation mourns the new names of the officers who died that year. The week is a time to mourn, share, laugh and honor our heroes.
I have attended many funerals for deputies, officers, troopers and agents in my career. We celebrate the service of the officers who honorably retire or died while employed for reasons ranging from health concerns, accidents and suicide. It is our obligation to find ways to honor the life of peace officers in as many ways as we can imagine. As a peace officer there is no higher honor we observe than to die in the line of duty. Police departments reserve the highest honors for a line of duty funeral. Processions, honor watch, flag folds, 21 gun salute, taps and retiring of badges are some of the sacred honors reserved for this, the ultimate sacrifice. To honor a line of duty death is not just honoring the one who passed it’s a message to those who continue to serve. The message is that their service is not only appreciated but they have security knowing that family members will be taken care of.
In the past I worked with the families of deputies who were critically injured, died of illness, suicide and line of duty deaths. Going to an officer’s family and making notification a loved one was not coming home was a difficult task. I did not enjoy the job, but I was committed to letting them know we took care of our deputies and their families.
When I retired and moved to Meridian in 2021 I was hoping this part of my career was over. Sadly on December 29, 2021 I had to deal with the passing of Officer Nowell. I was able to gain the assistance of the Fort Worth Police Department who assisted us providing a line of duty funeral for a town that has never had one in its history.
This May Officer Nowell and the city of Meridian will be honored in Washington DC. Butch and the city will be added to the memorial during a service on Peace Officers Memorial Day. I will have the honor of presenting his wife Lucy Nowell and represent the city of Meridian.
I am asking for your support in assisting the Nowell family with the funds necessary to attend the event. Those wishing to donate, an account in the name of Lucy Nowell is being set up at the Sunflower Bank in Meridian if you would like to help the family. Contributions are greatly appreciated. I am glad to live in a community that has not had to deal with the loss of life of people who serve their community. It is easy to dismiss the loss of an officer as just another death in the community. I appreciate our city putting on a first responder appreciation dinner and the outpouring of support from our community. If you have any questions about donations or Police Week please feel free to reach out to me at our city office.