Hundreds gathered Friday at the foot of the Temple of Justice on the Capitol Campus to honor police officers who have fallen or been injured in the line of duty.
The seventh annual Law Enforcement Medal of Honor Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony took place at the Law Enforcement Memorial overlooking Heritage Park and Budd Inlet, where family, friends and colleagues remembered officers who died in the line of duty. Since 1855, 275 officers have died in the line of duty in Washington state.
The event began with the presenting of the colors, as well as the singing of the national and Canadian anthems.
The songs, sung by Spokane police detective Stephanie Barkley, struck a chord with Gov. Jay Inslee.
“The line ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’ — I realize it is the land of the free because of the brave,” Inslee said. “Two hundred and seventy five did not come home, and today we are the land of the free because of those 275 brave officers.”
Among those fallen was U.S. Park Ranger Margaret Anderson, a Mount Rainier National Park ranger who was shot and killed Jan. 1, 2012, while trying to set up a road block to stop Benjamin Barnes, who was wanted in connection with a Seattle shooting and fleeing into the national park.
A National Park Service review board determined that Anderson’s actions in trying to stop Barnes kept him from reaching the crowded Paradise area and likely saved the lives of many park visitors and staff. After shooting Anderson, Barnes ran off. His body was found in a nearby river the next day.
Anderson was posthumously awarded law enforcement’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, on Friday. Her parents accepted the award from Inslee on her behalf.
“She needed to go home safely at the end of that day,” said Randy King, Mount Rainier National Park superintendent. “Our officers have fierce intent to prevail and conquer. … Sacrifice is what law enforcement officers across the state and this country are willing to do when they stand between us and harm.”
Four other officers were also given the Medal of Honor. Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies Michael Northway and Joseph Spink were both injured when they were shot during a traffic stop on June 19, 2012. The suspect, Charles Wallace, later killed himself after leading police on a chase.
Lakewood police officers Ryan Moody and Jon Waller were also recognized for their efforts in stopping a fleeing driver who shot at them. They fatally shot Michael David Crawford, who was wearing body armor, after he engaged them in a gunfight following a chase.
Inslee proclaimed the week of May 13 Law Enforcement Recognition Week during the ceremony.
“This is thanks to them and their families … all of whom have a shot at peace because of these officers and their families,” Inslee said.