According to statistics from the Officer Down Memorial Page’s website, 53 law enforcement officers have died so far in 2018.
Of those officers, 27 were shot and killed in the line of duty.
While it has been more than 80 years since an officer was killed in McPherson, the McPherson Police Department still honors the memory of their two fallen brothers on Peace Officers Memorial Day, which is observed each year on May 15.
At a ceremony in McPherson Cemetery on Tuesday morning, McPherson Police Chief Robert McClarty laid a wreath at the grave of Martin Grant. Grant, who was a night chief for the McPherson Police Department, died in 1937 of a heart attack after subduing and arresting an intoxicated and disorderly individual.
Night Chief Charles Bruce, of the McPherson Police Department, was shot and killed in 1933 while intervening in a robbery at a gas station.
“They should never be forgotten because of the sacrifice that they’ve made,” said McPherson Police Chaplain H. Dick Reynolds, Jr.
The newly-formed McPherson Police Department’s Color Guard posted the colors for the ceremony in the cemetery and at an observance held at First Presbyterian Church Tuesday evening.
“These color guards are practiced and put into service at all kinds of different celebrations,” Reynolds said.
The color guard wears black Glengarry hats and kilts, accented with a tartan of black crossed with red, white and blue lines.
McClarty said the choice for the color guard’s uniforms was made to intentionally tie into both McPherson’s Scottish heritage and the history of earlier years in law enforcement.
“When the Irish and the Scottish came to America, they took all of the less desirable jobs, the jobs that the elite didn’t want — police officers, firefighters, gravediggers — they took the dangerous jobs,” McClarty said. “There’s a heritage that ties the Irish and the Scottish into law enforcement back in the days that they first arrived here.”
McClarty said the tribute is held annually to honor both McPherson’s fallen officers and other fallen officers across the nation.
“It’s kind of a special thing to all of the officers because certainly every one of those officers knows it is at least potentially possible that the same thing — falling in the line of duty — could happen to them at any time,” Reynolds said. “To know that there is a remembrance and an honoring that happens time and time again is probably a comfort to them and their families.”
Without the sacrifices of men and women of law enforcement, even more violent deaths could occur in a community, McClarty said. “We are the guardians, the protectors — the thin blue line standing between good and evil,” McClarty said.
“Every single officer realizes that it could be them. By coming out here and remembering these two...I think it means something to the officers who will say, ‘if the worst ever happened, then I will be remembered for what I have done,’” Reynolds said.