32nd Annual Oklahoma Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service
Trooper Buddy Hamilton pencils an etching of Trooper David "Rocky" Eales' name following the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service today in Oklahoma City. Both members of the OHP Tactical Team, Hamilton was driving the vehicle as fellow trooper Eales was shot and killed with an AR-15 assault rifle while serving arrest warrants at a Sequoyah County residence in September 1999. Hamilton was shot in the shoulder and received bullet fragments in his left eye.
The 32nd Annual Oklahoma Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service was held today at the state's monument in Oklahoma City at the Department of Public Safety.
Eight officers killed in the line of duty were inscribed on the memorial wall as a tribute to their sacrifices.
"It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived," said Commissioner of Public Safety Bob A. Ricks, keynote speaker. "They refereed hometown ball games, participated in community events and counseled inquisitive teenagers. They laid their lives on the thin blue line while protecting their local communities and upholding the Constitution."
There are approximately 740,000 sworn law enforcement officers nationwide. Two to three officers are killed somewhere in America nearly every week.
"Last year, 139 officers died which is the lowest number in over three decades," said Ricks. "Although statistics reflect that law enforcement is winning the battle with a decline in crime rates, individual assaults on officers have become more violent."
Ricks said to combat such attacks, the number of hours today's officers spend in training has dramatically increased to prepare them for potentially violent encounters.
"Those we are honoring here today have fought the good fight. They have finished the race. They have kept the faith. Now it is up to us to honor the lives they lived, and to ensure that their heroic deeds are never forgotten," said Ricks.
Family members were escorted by fellow officers of their loved ones. They placed red carnations on an outline of the state of Oklahoma as a symbolic gesture of the sacrifices of the eight officers.
Dozens of officers from all over Oklahoma saluted as the bugler played Taps. A helicopter conducted a fly by over the reverent crowd, followed by the traditional 21-gun salute volley fire.
Officers honored today were Trooper David "Rocky" Eales, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Ian T. Ewing, Kay County Sheriff's Department, James R. Day, U.S. Air Force Military Police, Vernie Roberts, Delaware County Sheriff's Department, Charles F. Trivitt, Hughes County Sheriff's Department, Donald E. Rhodes, Quapaw Police Department and Jefferson D. Graham, city marshal of Temple.