Police Memorial Day honors Alaska law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty
It's the place where law enforcement officers hope to solve crimes. Yet, on Friday, the State Crime Lab played host for the annual Alaska Police Memorial Day Program.
"On this somber occasion, we honor the 68 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, while serving the people of Alaska," said Alaska State Trooper Major Bernard Chastain.
The event featured several speakers, including Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price.
"We know there was so much more to those we honor than just the badge they wore. They were husbands, and daughters, and friends, and wives, and mothers, and fathers, and neighbors, and loved ones," said Price who comes from a family of law enforcement officers.
This year's ceremony featured something extra.
The granddaughters of Ron Zimin unveiled a statue of him inside the crime lab. Zimin became Alaska's first village public safety officer (VPSO) killed in the line of duty, when he responded to a domestic disturbance in South Naknek in Oct. 1986. That's when Craig Hall shot and killed him.
Zimin's son called the statue a long overdue honor for his father.
"It's been a long time since '86, he was a well-known guy in the community, it just means a lot to the family to honor him," said Zimin.
VSPO Zimin is one of only two VPSO’s killed in the line of duty in Alaska. Thomas Madole, a VPSO with Manakotak, died after being shot while on duty on March 19, 2013.
Overall, Alaska State Troopers suffered the most losses with 12, as Sergeant Scott Johnson and Trooper Gabriel Rich died when Nathanial Kangas shot them while they tried to arrest his father, Arvin Kangas, in Tanana on May 1, 2014.
The Anchorage Police Department had the second highest number of officers killed while on duty with 10, followed by the U.S. Marshal's Service with eight deaths.
A bell tolled for each of those who gave their lives as their names, and their agency, were read out loud as a tribute to law enforcement officers who came to an unexpected end of watch.
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