& & by Rae Anna Victor & & & &
In the state of Washington, 260 law enforcement officers have been killed or died while on the job. The first in the state was Andrew Bolon in 1855; the first in Spokane County was Officer Robert Rusk in 1886. Since that first law enforcement death in Spokane County, 21 more have followed. Spokane County ranks third in the state for line-of-duty deaths. Only King County, with 88 officer deaths, and Pierce County, with 23, have more than Spokane.
Next month, A Century of Honor -- Excellence and Valor in Washington State Law Enforcement will be published. Funded by the Washington State Law Enforcement Association, the book aims to honor the officers of the state who have died in the line of duty, tell the history of law enforcement in our state and honor the men and women of law enforcement who have received recognition for going beyond the call of duty. The research for the book has taken more than two years.
In my research, I have found that law enforcement is not just the men and women on the streets of America. It is the men and women on the telephones taking emergency calls. It is the men and women on the radios giving the calls and keeping the officers safe. It is the men and women of the investigative and identification divisions, and it is the men and women of the support divisions and corrections. Without each person doing the job, and doing it correctly, the foundation for the criminal justice system that protects the innocent and punishes the guilty would not be able to function properly. As we begin a new century, we are hoping to close the last with a complete accounting of our law enforcement history.
When I began research for the book, there were 253 verified in this state for line-of-duty deaths, including federal officers. Today, I am looking into number 260. The saddest part of the whole project has been to come across an officer who had lost his life in the line of duty and who had been forgotten by his or her department and the people of the state. The book tells the story of these officers and features more than 570 pictures.
Spokane County had the first memorial to all the officers of the state who lost their lives in the line of duty. That memorial is located at the Spokane Public Safety Building, and each year during National Police Week in May, a memorial ceremony takes place that the public is welcome to attend. The memorial, built and maintained by private funding sources, was dedicated on May 16, 1987. Currently, several million dollars are being raised for a memorial to recognize all the officers of the state that will be built on the capitol grounds in Olympia. Any one with an interest in the project can go to the website at www.wslem.com.
A new Spokane County memorial, the Wall of Honor, was dedicated earlier this week to all the officers who have died in the line of duty in Spokane County. The Wall was created and paid for by the Spokane County Sheriff Deputy Association and the Spokane Police Guild in honor of their fellow officers. The wall is located in the breezeway of the Public Safety Building between the lobby and records department. There is a plaque with a picture and the story of each officer. Any family or friends who might have access to pictures of the missing officers are urged to contact the department so that these men might be appropriately honored.
& & & lt;i & Spokane writer Rae Anna Victor's new book A Century of Honor -- Excellence and Valor in Washington State Law Enforcement will be available next month at local bookstores and online at www.1stbooks.com. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &