By: Joanne M. Haas/DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement
As silent raindrops bounced off wide brims of plastic-covered uniform hats and hugged shoulders at unwavering attention, Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens and other law enforcement officers from across Wisconsin gathered for a somber State Capitol ceremony to honor officers killed in the line of duty.
DNR Warden Lt. Jeremy Peery of Eau Claire commanded the special honor guard whose member officers from several agencies, including DNR wardens, kept a walking watch with mirror-like precision at the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial in shifts from 5 a.m. until the start of the 27th annual outdoor ceremony at the northeast corner of the Capitol Square on May 19.
"Never alone. The post never ends," Lt. Peery said loudly when he officially ended the final two-officer patrol before an audience of officers, families and friends.
Governor Scott Walker, who also helped place the wreath at the outdoor memorial, called the spring rain the appropriate backdrop for reflection. The governor said the ceremony was not only to honor the lost public servants, but also to honor the fallen officers' "lives, their commitment and their love," to "support the families of the heroes" and "to give thanks."
Three names were added last week to the state memorial, bringing to 273 the total of officers lost in Wisconsin since record-keeping began. They are: Michael J. Ventura of the Town of Salem Public Safety Department, Dan T. Glaze of the Rusk County Sheriff's Office, both died in 2016; and, Charles W. Gudgell of the Milwaukee Police Department, whose death in 1916 had not been recognized until recently.
The Wisconsin DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement has lost seven wardens in the line of duty during the past decades. /emergency/wallOfHonor/honor.html
The annual event stems from an action by President John F. Kennedy who in 1962 designated May 15 as the National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week as National Police week in special recognition of those who lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. The Madison event followed other similar services statewide, as well as the national event at Washington, D.C. To learn more, visit: http://www.nleomf.org/programs/policeweek/