WILKES-BARRE — The Wilkes-Barre Police Retirees Association marked the end of National Police Week today with a Peace Officer Memorial Day service.
“We’re here to honor the men and women who we worked with, served with, argued with,” event Chairman Harold Cawley said at a small gathering on the front lawn and sidewalk of Wilkes-Barre Police Department Headquarters. “They’re our family. And I find it hard to forget them.”
Wilkes-Barre Police Pension Board President Benny Victor recited the names of four city police retirees who died in the past two years:
• Capt. Joseph Krawetz, died Aug. 26, 2012.
• Patrolman Robert Slocum, died Dec. 15, 2012.
• Sgt. Charles Bailey, died Oct. 31, 2013.
• Patrolman Ronald Rebo, died Dec. 27, 2013.
“Those are our four deceased brothers, who we’re honoring today, along with our other deceased member officers,” Victor said.
Retired Captain of Detectives Wayne Cooney and retired Deputy Police Chief Donald Crane placed a memorial wreath of red carnations and baby’s breath in front of the permanent police memorial on the police department lawn.
The service concluded with a moment of silence followed by Michael Malloy playing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.
Association President Jerry Cookus said he hopes to have a more substantial service next year.
The holiday observance was created Oct. 1, 1961, when Congress asked the president to designate May 15 to honor peace officers, and the bill was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy on Oct. 1, 1962, noted retired Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Joseph Coyne.
The legislation was amended in 1994 when President Bill Clinton directed that the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff on May 15.
President Barack Obama on May 9 issued a proclamation recognizing May 15 at Police Officer memorial day and designating May 11-17 as Police Week this year.
“During Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week, we celebrate those who protect and serve us every minute of every day, and we honor the courageous officers who devoted themselves so fully to others that in the process they laid down their lives,” Obama said in the proclamation.
“As we mourn the fallen, let us also remember how they lived. With unflinching commitment, they defended our schools and businesses. They guarded prisons; patrolled borders; and kept us safe at home, on the road, and as we went about our lives,” he said. “To their families, we owe an unpayable debt. And to the men and women who carry their mission forward, we owe our unyielding support.”