Slain police remembered

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

From staff reports

More police officers were killed in the line of duty last year than during 2010 and local lawmen paused Thursday to remember.

"This year, the names of 163 officers killed in the line of duty during 2011 are being added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.," Police Chief Chuck Forbis said.

His report came during the annual observance of National Police Week, which occurs during the week including May 15.

Lewisburg Police Officers who died in the line of duty are Officer Billy Blackwell on Feb. 1, 1975, and Detective Eugene Leverette on Nov. 25, 1978.

"In 2011 the number of officers killed increased by 34 percent from just two years earlier when, in 2009, 122 officers were killed," Forbis said. In 2011, "Seventy officers were killed by firearms... an increase of 19 percent over the previous year when 59 officers died as a result of firearms.

"On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 53 hours," he continued. "Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice."

Retiring state Rep. Eddie Bass (D-Prospect), a former Giles County sheriff, was the featured speaker during the observance in Lewisburg's Rock Creek Park on Thursday evening.

National Police Week was established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962.

The Columbia Police Department's Honor Guard presented the colors during the ceremony and participated with Lewisburg Police for a 21 Gun Salute to slain police officers.