Law Enforcement Memorial Week honors those officers who have been lost in the line of duty
In honor of National Police Week and National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, the State of Kansas will be having its annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony this week. National Police Week is held May 15-21 this year, and National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day is held annually on May 15. The Kansas services will take place this year on May 5 and 6. The public is encouraged to attend the memorial events that take place in Kansas.
The 29th Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony will be held on Friday, May 6 at the Law Enforcement Monument, located on the northeast quadrant of the Statehouse grounds. The ceremony will begin at 12:00 p.m.
The 16th Annual Kansas Law Enforcement Memorial Candlelight Vigil, sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary, Topeka #3, will be held on Thursday, May 5 at the Law Enforcement Monument on the northeast quadrant of the Statehouse grounds. The vigil will be at 8:30 p.m.
Every year, in honor of National Police Week, the Patrol joins COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors) to observe both National Police Week and National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. COPS is a national non-profit organization for the families of officers lost in the line of duty. The Patrol will be tying blue ribbons to agency-owned vehicles, and encouraging civilian workers to outfit their vehicles with the ribbons during the special observance to honor these fallen officers, as well as their families. A limited supply of the official COPS ribbons will be available at many Kansas law enforcement agencies, including your local Kansas Highway Patrol troop headquarters. If the official COPS ribbons are not available, any 18-inch strip of royal blue ribbon will show your support.
“Three officers are being added to the Kansas law enforcement monument this year. Each made the ultimate sacrifice while they performed their sworn duties. We will honor them, along with the rest of Kansas’ fallen officers this week,” Patrol Superintendent, Colonel Ernest E. Garcia said. “By tying a blue ribbon to their vehicles, officers are reminded of the sacrifices their brothers and sisters have made. By members of the public displaying blue ribbons, officers feel the support of their communities.” The Kansas Highway Patrol will display blue ribbons on their vehicles from May 6 through May 30th to honor all officers killed in the line of duty.
In 2010, the U.S. lost 152 law enforcement officers in the line of duty, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. That is up from 122 officers in 2009. Sadly, Kansas lost two officers in the line of duty in 2010.
Three fallen Kansas law enforcement officers’ names will be added to the monument this year:
• Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Officer Luke D. Nihart was killed in the early morning hours of June 26, 2010. He was working the annual Country Stampede at Tuttle Creek State Park, when the ATV he was operating crashed. He died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. Nihart had served with the Department of Wildlife and Parks for 11 years.
• Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Sam Smith was killed on July 23, 2010. Smith was responding to a domestic disturbance call when he lost control of his patrol vehicle and struck a tree. Smith died from the crash. He had served with Franklin County for nine months.
• Santa Fe Railroad Special Officer G.W. Greenstreet was looking for thieves who had been stealing from rail cars in the train yard at Edgerton on the evening of June 17, 1912. During the search, he was struck by a train and killed.
Throughout the memorial week and during the rest of the year, the Kansas Highway Patrol remembers the service of the following 10 Troopers who gave their lives while protecting Kansans.
KHP “Roll of Honor”
• Trooper Maurice R. Plummer was the first member of the Patrol to be killed in the line of duty. Trooper Plummer was fatally injured in an automobile crash while patrolling US-40 about five miles west of Russell on Dec. 16, 1944.
• Trooper Jimmie D. Jacobs was fatally injured in an automobile crash Oct. 8, 1959, on US-54 east of El Dorado. Trooper Jacobs was on an emergency run transporting blood for an immediate surgery in Eureka when he collided with a grain truck that turned in front of his patrol car.
• Trooper John B. McMurray was fatally injured in an automobile crash Dec. 6, 1964, on K-18 west of Manhattan. Trooper McMurray was stowing a camera in the trunk of his patrol car, which was parked on the shoulder of the highway, when an intoxicated driver struck him. He died as a result of his injuries on Dec. 9, 1964.
• Lieutenant Bernard C. Hill suffered fatal injuries as the result of an automobile crash May 28, 1967, on the Kansas Turnpike near Andover. A driver hydroplaned during a severe thunderstorm and lost control of his car and a car it was towing. Both vehicles crossed the median, the towing car overturned, caught fire, and struck Hill’s patrol car head on.
• Sergeant Eldon K. Miller was shot and fatally injured on Jan. 19, 1968, while taking part in a manhunt for bank robbery suspects in Overland Park. Sergeant Miller, the first Patrol member to be killed by gunfire, was fatally shot while moving a patrol car to protect officers who were pinned down by gunfire.
• Trooper James D. Thornton was shot and fatally injured on Oct. 2, 1973, while checking a hitchhiker on Interstate 70 at the east edge of Topeka. The man, wanted for the murder of his father in New York, was later shot and killed by other officers when he refused to surrender.
• Trooper Conroy G. O’Brien was shot and fatally injured on May 24, 1978, after stopping a car for a traffic violation on the Kansas Turnpike near Matfield Green. Three suspects were apprehended after a vehicle chase, gun battle and massive manhunt south of Herington.
• Trooper Ferdinand F. “Bud” Pribbenow was shot on July 7, 1981 and succumbed to his wounds on July 11, 1981, after stopping a man for driving 98 miles per hour on the Kansas Turnpike near El Dorado. The suspect was wounded and apprehended after a short pursuit and gun battle with officers near the Kellogg Turnpike interchange in east Wichita.
• Master Trooper Larry L. Huff was injured in an automobile crash on Nov. 3, 1993. He was patrolling US-81 south of Concordia when his vehicle was struck broadside by a semi-truck as he was attempting to turn around in pursuit of a traffic violator. He died as a result of his injuries on Nov. 26, 1993.
• Master Trooper Dean A. Goodheart was fatally injured in an automobile crash at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 6, 1995, on Interstate 70 near Oakley. As a member of the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, Goodheart was performing a routine truck safety inspection when a passing car struck him.