Fairbanks says goodbye to fallen officer at memorial service
People from around the state and continent gathered in Fairbanks Sunday to honor Fairbanks Police Department (FPD) Sgt. Allen Brandt.
The officer died on Oct. 28, 12 days after he was shot six times while responding to a call in downtown Fairbanks. FPD said Brandt died from complications during a surgery to remove shrapnel from his eye.
At least 1,300 people attended the service Sunday. Many of them were first responders and their families. People from a number of Alaska communities, as well as the Lower 48 and Canada, paid their respects. Several people spoke at the service, including Gov. Bill Walker.
“Sgt. Allen Brandt did not become a hero because he lost his life. Sgt. Allen Brandt became a hero the day he stepped forward and said, ‘I will serve,'” Walker told the crowd.
People who were close to Brandt shared their favorite memories. They described Brandt as an incredibly dedicated officer who did everything possible to maintain a high standard of integrity.
“He’ll be remembered as a true professional police officer, one that people would thank even on their worst day,” said Acting FPD Chief Brad Johnson.
Phil McBroom, an officer with the North Pole Police Department, was Brandt’s best friend. During the eulogy, McBroom described 34-year-old Brandt as devoted to his wife, four children and Christian faith.
“Allen was the real deal. What he has was genuine,” McBroom said. “He was a dedicated follower of Christ, and passionate about his faith in Jesus until his last breath.”
McBroom said the country does not support law enforcement as much as it used to, and in a possible reference to Senate Bill 91, said Alaska lawmakers are putting public safety officers at greater risk in order to save money.
“Today, I will bury my best friend and my brother, and there is no dollar savings and no amount of social experimentation that could make that worthwhile,” McBroom said.
Toward the end of the service, attendees watched a clip of Brandt at a Fairbanks City Council meeting just a few days before he died. In the footage, he thanked the community for its support.
“I know sometimes it’s hard for officers to see whether the city supports us, but I’ve always said that by and large, the city does support its police officers,” Brandt said.
Brandt was also honored with a 21-gun salute and songs performed by drummers and bagpipers from the Seattle Police Department’s pipe and drums. He received two FPD awards: the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart. His son, Fritz, also gave him an award for being the “best dad.” Johnson held back tears as he read it aloud on stage with Fritz by his side.
Following the ceremony, FPD dispatchers released balloons outside the Carlson Center. Brandt’s casket left the arena in a hearse along with a large motorcade of law enforcement vehicles. Many service attendees looked on as the cars drove past.
“You see the sad members of law enforcement pass you by as they say goodbye to their own. It is very difficult,” said Paris Wells.
Brandt is the first FPD officer to die after being shot in the line of duty in nearly 19 years. He was an officer with the department for 11 years.
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