Showing posts with label fallen officers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fallen officers. Show all posts

Friday, May 23, 2014

Remembering those who have fallen

Yesterday was our annual Memorial Service, honoring the 119 Kansas City Police officers who have died in the line of duty. Below is the speech I delivered on this occasion. I was honored to be joined by Officer Randy Evans, who spoke of how his father - also a KCPD officer - was killed in the line of duty when he was 9 years old, and how in spite of this, Randy decided to become a KCPD officer, too.

"Thank you all for coming here today to remember the lives of the 119 officers we have lost in the 140-year history of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. They are represented by the 119 flags you see before you. We also are celebrating the 13 years it has been since our department has suffered a line-of-duty death.

"However, I would be remiss to overlook the tragic death of Crime Scene Investigator Michael Chou last July. His shift had just ended, and when he was pulling out of the Crime Lab’s parking lot, he was struck and killed by a drunk driver. My thoughts and prayers – as well as those of his coworkers and the entire police department – remain with his family and friends. He technically was not on duty at the time of his death, but he was a bright and tenacious young man who left his mark at KCPD.

"We may not have had an officer killed in the line of duty since 2001, but their jobs remain very dangerous. Six times last year, our officers had to fatally wound suspects to protect their own lives. Five other officers had injuries so severe they had to end their law enforcement careers last year, and two more have done so this year. These career ending-injuries come from many kinds of dangerous situations, like a gun battle, physical struggles with suspects and car crashes. They all speak to the kind of dangers our officers are willing to face every day to serve the people of their city. They also are the kinds of things that keep our family members awake at night. I thank all the family members of law enforcement personnel here today, and I especially thank those whose worst fears were realized. Words cannot express the gratefulness and sorrow we feel for these family members of officers who lost their lives.

"We are doing everything we can to ensure no other family has to go through what Officer Evans’ family or any of these people sitting here did. Last August, instructors at our police academy began the Below 100 initiative. Below 100 is a national program that aims to bring line-of-duty officer deaths below 100 in a calendar year. The last time fewer than 100 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in America was 70 years ago in 1944. So far this year, there have been 45 line-of-duty-deaths.

"While innovations in medicine, training and protective equipment have brought deaths down from an all-time high of 278 officers killed in 1974, the current average of 150 per year since then is still far too high.

"Here’s how we’re making sure one of those tragedies does not take place in Kansas City: Every single entrant officer takes the Below 100 training right before graduating from the Police Academy. The course also is offered quarterly to current officers. It is free to our staff and those from any other agency who want to attend. The goal is to save lives, not make money.

"Below 100 centers on five tenets for officers, which address the top causes of line-of-duty deaths in American law enforcement. The tenets are: wear your seatbelt, wear your bullet-resistant vest, watch your speed, consider only what’s important now, and the fact that complacency kills. Everyone who undergoes the training gets one of these bracelets that says “Below 100” to constantly remind them of these things.

"Of the 119 KCPD officers killed in the line of duty, 73 died from gunfire. Another 18 were killed in motorcycle crashes, and 14 died in car crashes. Three were killed in helicopter crashes, and three others were beaten to death. Other officers in our history drowned while trying to rescue flood victims, were killed in a streetcar crash, were hit by a train, had a heart attack during arrest or died in a fall.

"Our Academy instructors, commanders, supervisors and I take the responsibility of properly training and equipping our officers extremely seriously. It is incumbent on us to ensure that every sworn member of our department has the knowledge and resources to go home safely at the end of their shifts. Some tragedies cannot be prevented. But we are working diligently to prevent those we can. I hope that the brave fallen officers who we remember and honor today would be proud of the steps we’ve taken to keep other families from enduring the same loss theirs had to.

Thank you."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Annual Memorial Service

The Kansas City Missouri Police Department will honor its 119 officers killed in the line of duty throughout the department’s history with a Memorial Service beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 23. Due to renovations at Headquarters, this year’s service will be at a new venue, Kansas City Regional Police Academy’s Sports Field located at 6885 NE Pleasant Valley Rd., Kansas City, MO. We may be in a different place, with a newer and different look, on this year’s day of remembrance, but the sacrifices of those who died serving our community are with us everywhere.

The service will include an honor guard, a 21-gun salute, the KCPD Color Guard, bagpipers, a flyover by the police helicopter, and a riderless horse. Supervisor L.C. Clark will read the names of all KCPD officers killed in the line of duty – the first in 1881 and the last in 2001. There will be 119 flags on display representing each one of these officers. For 119 hours preceding the service, dispatchers read one officer’s name per hour over the police radio system. The last officer’s name, Craig Schultz, will be read immediately before the ceremony begins Thursday.

In the event of rain, the ceremony will take place inside the gymnasium of the Academy.  I encourage everyone to attend the ceremony and for all to keep in mind the sacrifices our officers make to keep our community safe.  Their commitment to excellence is our community’s benefit. 

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Memorial service, bench honor officer killed in 1924

The Kansas City Police Department has a long, and at times, tragic history. The Trail of Heroes was created to remember and honor those who have given their lives in the service of this city. Sometimes it's heartening when someone takes the time and resources to honor someone who many have forgotten about. That was the case this past New Year's Day. Check out the story about it in our January Informant newsletter.

Officer Dennis Coates read the bench dedication letter to Sgt. Dennis Whalen’s great-nieces MaryBeth Daigneaux and Margaret Ann Frick.

A bench on the Trail of Heroes – funded by an anonymous donor – was dedicated to an officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty 88 years ago this past New Year’s Day.

Sergeant Dennis Whalen was shot on New Year’s Eve 1923 and died in the hospital on New Year’s Day 1924 after attempting to arrest suspects in the death of another officer killed in 1913.

According to the Police Memorial web site, it all started with two suspects wanted for killing KCPD Patrolman Homer Riggle on Feb. 20, 1913. Patrolman Riggle was shot and killed by two robbery suspects who overpowered him during an arrest and killed him with his own weapon. Three months later on April 30, 1913, Officer Andrew Lynch was in a pharmacy at 9th street and Benton Boulevard when he recognized the suspects. The two men, John Tatman and Samuel Sherman, fled. Officer Lynch chased them and a running gun battle broke out. Lynch was shot five times. He died five days later of his wounds. He had been on the department just six years and was 38 years old. That same day in April 1913, Sergeant Dennis Whalen was responsible for capturing the two men who killed Officer Andrew Lynch and Patrolman Homer Riggle.

Eleven years later, Sgt. Whalen was shot at age 57 by a bandit at 1549 East 18th street and died New Year’s Day 1924. Some sources say the man who killed him was an additional suspect wanted in the murders of Patrolman Riggle and Officer Lynch.

Sergeant Dennis Whalen joined the police department in 1889. Throughout his 34-year career, he served as a beat patrolman, a special guard, and an executive officer.

It is known, after Sgt. Whalen’s death, his wife Anna Whalen gathered all the gold and silver jewelry Dennis had given her over the years and had it melted into a chalice in honor of him. Years later, that same chalice was found at St. Therese Little Flower Parish at 58th and Euclid with an engraving on the bottom saying, “In loving memory of Dennis Whalen, by his wife Anna Whalen.”

A Catholic Mass and Memorial was held for Sgt. Dennis Whalen and to honor those who put their lives in danger for others on January 1, 2012 at St. Therese Little Flower Parish. Sgt. Whalen and Ann’s great- nieces, sisters MaryBeth Daigneaux and Margaret Ann Frick, said they were honored to receive the letter that Officer Dennis Coates read, stating that a bench from the Kansas City Missouri Police Department’s Trail of Heroes was anonymously dedicated in his name.

Mike Arndt, Operations Manager, said, “Sgt. Whalen’s bench will be the 11th bench honoring those who have died in the line of duty and the 21st bench overall.”

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Celebrating the life of a fallen officer

Kansas City Police are mourning the loss of one of our own today. This brave officer did not lose her life after a battle with a gun; she lost it after a battle with breast cancer. Master Patrol Officer Diane Engebretson passed away early yesterday, Sept. 21. She was 51 years old and had served as a patrol officer for her entire 23 years on the police department. She was assigned to the over-night shift at North Patrol Division at the time of her death.

We will celebrate Officer Engebretson’s life in many ways, one of which is to help find a cure for the disease that took her from us. Kansas City Police are participating in the 2011 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Oct. 29 at Liberty Memorial. This event raises money for the American Cancer Society, which uses the funds to do everything from transporting those suffering from breast cancer to and from treatment to researching innovative drugs and therapies. You can help by donating to the KCPD Team, “Walking the Beat for Breast Cancer,” by searching for our team name here.

The walk is just one small thing we can do to honor Officer Engebretson for all the dedicated service she has given this police department and the people of Kansas City.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Eagle Scout project creates memorial to lawmen lost in Union Station Massacre 78 years ago

Seventy-eight years ago today, two Kansas City Police officers, an FBI agent and the chief of an Oklahoma police department were killed in a hail of gunfire in the Union Station Massacre. We took the time to honor them today thanks to the work of an Eagle Scout.

On June 17, 1933, police were transporting federal prisoner Frank Nash from Oklahoma to the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., when several of his mobster friends (Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd, Vernon Miller and Adam Richetti) attempted to free him as he got off the train at Downtown's Union Station. KCPD Detectives William Grooms and Frank Hermanson, FBI Agent Raymond Caffrey and McAlester, Okla., Police Chief Otto Reed died as the mobsters sprayed them with bullets. FBI Agent F. Joseph Lackey was injured but survived. Prisoner Frank Nash ended up dying in the massacre, as well. Another little-known victim, KCPD Officer Grant Schroder, was killed the following year by an officer who came upon the carnage of the Union Station Massacre, became mentally unstable with survivor's guilt and killed Officer Schroder. The FBI has a great description of Union Station Massacre on its site, including what led up to it and how the perpetrators were captured.

In the rain this morning, at the Trail of Heroes on the campus of the Kansas City Regional Police Academy and Shoal Creek Patrol Division, we dedicated a monument in honor of the lawmen who were killed in this horrid event. The monument was the Eagle Scout project of J.J. Duer of Boy Scout Troup 180, son of KCPD Officer Jeff Duer. They have been working on it for months, and it's breath-taking. It permanently will memorialize those who lost their lives in this event that changed law enforcement forever. As an Eagle Scout myself, I couldn't be more proud and humbled.

Today's dedication featured a couple special guests. One was Patrick Caffrey, grandson of FBI Agent Raymond Caffrey, who was killed in the Massacre. Caffrey's father was just six years old when he lost his dad in the barrage of bullets. FBI Agent Mike Oiler also joined us today. Another guest was actually present at the Massacre in 1933, but it's not a person. It's a Thompson sub-machine gun (Tommy gun) owned and used by KCPD officers during the Union Station Massacre. We still have three of those Tommy guns used by police that day in storage.

Check out some pictures from today's dedication below, and be sure to check out this amazing new monument, located about 500 feet from the trailhead on the Trail of Heroes.

Soon-to-be Eagle Scout J.J. Duer and his dad, Officer Jeff Duer

The Tommy gun Kansas City Police used at the Union Station Massacre, presented by KCPD Firearms Instructor Dave Andress.

FBI Special Agent Mike Oiler accepting a copy of a letter former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote to surviving FBI Agent F. Joseph Lackey three days after the Union Station Massacre.

Unveiling the memorial.

Many local businesses and individuals donated their time and supplies to assist with the memorial's creation.

J.J. Duer with Patrick Caffrey, grandson of Raymond Caffrey, the FBI agent killed in the Union Station Massacre.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Our deepest condolences on the loss of Riverside Police Officer Jeff Taylor

The entire KCPD family and I send our deepest condolences to the family, friends and coworkers of Officer Jeff Taylor of the Riverside, Missouri, Police Department. Officer Taylor had volunteered to assist in tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., when he was struck by lightning on May 23 near the operation’s command post. He passed away today at age 31 in Springfield, Mo.

This is tragic in so many ways. To lose any officer in the line of duty is crushing, but to lose one who selflessly volunteered to assist in a disaster 150 miles away is devastating. Officer Taylor is the only emergency responder to pass away as a result of the May 22 Joplin tornado and is the first officer ever to die in the line of duty with the Riverside Police Department.

As Riverside Mayor Kathy Rose said, “He died upholding a tradition of our community and many communities like ours to serve and protect, and to help neighbors in need.”

I think of our own officers who tirelessly have been working in Joplin and am sobered by the fact it could have been any one of them. I am thankful every day for their safety.

The Kansas City Police Department enjoys excellent partnerships with our neighboring law enforcement agencies, including Riverside. They always are eager to assist us, and vice versa. Several of our officers knew and worked with Jeff, and they are terribly saddened by his loss. We will assist our police brothers and sisters in Riverside in any way we can during this difficult time.

If you would like to support Officer Taylor’s loved ones at this time, you can send a card or message to:

Taylor Family
City of Riverside Police Department
2990 NW Vivion Road
Riverside, MO 64150

I also encourage you to donate to a fund set up in honor of Officer Taylor to assist his family with expenses:

Taylor Benefit Account
K.C. Police Credit Union
2800 E. 14th Street
Kansas City, MO 64127  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Remembering those who gave all for this city

Today was our annual Police Memorial Service. We had to move it inside because of the rain, but the same sentiment was present: honoring all the officers who have died in the line of duty since this department began in 1874. Below are my remarks from this morning's event:

Thank you all very much for taking the time to come here today and honor the ultimate sacrifice made by 119 members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. They gave their lives to serving the public, and we should remember their selflessness more than one day a year.

In fact, in some ways we became complacent. Nationwide in 2009, police officer deaths fell to their lowest level in 50 years. We have now been blessed to go a decade without tragically losing a member of the KCPD family. We are well-trained. We have bullet-resistant vests and fast cars and technology. But we are not invincible. The surge of line-of duty deaths in 2010 and into this year proves we cannot fall into a false sense of security.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund recorded a 40 percent increase in line-of-duty deaths last year, with 162 officers killed across the United States. And to date this year, 12 more officers have been killed than in 2010. The majority of this year’s slayings have been from gunfire. National Memorial Fund Chairman Craig W. Floyd was right when he said, “A more brazen, cold-blooded criminal element is on the prowl in America, and they don’t think twice about killing a cop.”

From St. Petersburg, Florida, to Hoonah, Alaska, bold and heartless criminals killed multiple officers who were trying to uphold the law last year. Two police officers in West Memphis, Arkansas, were shot to death during a traffic stop by two anti-government activists. St. Petersburg hadn’t lost an officer in the line of duty for 30 years, but three were killed in 2010. Two died in January when a suspect hiding in the attic of a home shot at them from above. Another lost his life in February when he questioned a 16-year-old about a possible car theft, and the teen shot him four times.

While shootings are the leading cause of death of on-duty officers so far in 2011, traffic fatalities led the causes of death last year. There is a rising trend of officers being killed when they are standing outside of their cars, like a sergeant with the Sevier County, Utah, Sheriff’s Office who was killed on April 29, 2010. He was investigating a crash on an interstate. An SUV lost control on a patch of ice and hit the sergeant, throwing him off a bridge and down 200 feet to his death.

ut for luck and the grace of God, Kansas City Police stayed out of these statistics. On September 26, 2010, a KCPD officer was involved in a foot chase in Midtown when he got hold of a suspect’s shirt just as the suspect jumped into a vehicle. The suspect drove away, dragging the officer down the street. The officer, fortunately, survived with minor injuries.

Just after midnight on Christmas day last year, two officers were dispatched to a simple trespassing call at an apartment complex. They ended up wrestling with a man high on PCP who repeatedly tried to take their service weapons from them and use them against them. The man was unable to do so and was taken into custody.

And on January 24 of this year in the Old Northeast part of the city, officers responded to a hostage situation in which one man was holding another at gun point inside a home. The officers concealed themselves outside, and when the suspect came out the front door, he was holding a gun. The officers told him to put the gun down, but he instead pointed it at them. Officers fired first, injuring the suspect.

Any one of those incidents could have had a different and much more tragic outcome. It is a dangerous time to be a police officer in Kansas City and elsewhere. The men and women of this police department go on the job every day knowing they will encounter criminals who should have been put in jail long ago but are still on the streets with assault weapons and no respect for the law. Our officers know they will walk alongside highways to help a car crash victim when the only thing standing between them and speeding motorists is a line of paint. They know they will be criticized and disrespected. Most of all, they do their duties knowing their names may end up on this monument. This is true selflessness, and it is to be commended and honored.

Those whose names are etched onto the base of this statue knew the risks, too, but chose to stay in this noble and dangerous profession. They valued the safety of this city over their own. For that, we remember and honor them today.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Police Memorial Service set for Thursday


The Kansas City Missouri Police Department will honor its 119 officers killed in the line of duty throughout the department’s history with a Memorial Service beginning at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 19, in front of Police Headquarters on Locust Street, between 11th and 12th streets.

The service will include an honor guard, a 21-gun salute from the steps of City Hall, the KCPD Color Guard, bagpipers, a flyover by the police helicopter, and a riderless horse representing fallen officers. Dispatcher L.C. Clark will read the names of all KCPD officers killed in the line of duty – the first in 1881 and the last in 2001. There will be 119 flags on display in front of Headquarters representing each one of these officers. For 119 hours preceding the service, dispatchers read one officer’s name per hour over the police radio system. The last officer’s name, Craig Schultz, will be read immediately before the ceremony begins Thursday.

Locust will be closed between 11th and 12th streets from about 7 a.m. to noon for the ceremony. In the event of rain, the ceremony will take place inside the basement of police headquarters, which can be accessed from 12th Street. The public is invited to attend.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Last fallen officer to be honored on Trail of Heroes on Monday

On May 9, 2001, Officer Craig Schultz responded to a roll-over crash on I-29 and was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was 36 years old, an 11-year veteran of the police department and left behind a wife and two young daughters. His was the 119th and most recent line-of-duty death for a Kansas City Missouri Police officer.

On Monday, the 10th anniversary of his death, his family, colleagues and friends will pay tribute to Officer Schultz at the Trail of Heroes on the campus of the Shoal Creek Patrol Division and Police Academy. A bench will be dedicated in his honor near the head of the trail. It will be both solemn and celebratory: solemn in marking a life that was cut far too short and grieving the decade that he wasn't with his family or colleagues; but celebratory in marking a life well-lived and marking that no other KCPD officer has died in the line of duty for 10 years, the longest time period in the history of the department. We fervently pray that it will never happen again.

Go to for more information about where the trail is and who it honors. Then go visit it in person.

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