By Sarrah Peters/News Editor
The American flag was at half-mast behind the Etowah County Law Enforcement Memorial on Tuesday, May 15 when Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin took some time out of his day to remember the local law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Entrekin visited the memorial to honor National Police Week, which began Monday, May 14.
National Police Week was established by U.S. Congress in 1962 to give special recognition to law enforcement officers lost in the line of duty while protecting others. President Kennedy proclaimed the resolution, as well as another proclamation naming May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day.
“It’s a great week to recognize law enforcement officers throughout the country, but I think the best part is that we are honoring the fallen officers that have given the ultimate sacrifice to their career and the families that have lost them,” said Entrekin. “It’s a week to honor them, and we appreciate everybody getting out and doing that. They have National Police week going on this week in [Washington], D.C. with thousands of people there. We are just so honored to have this memorial here for the citizens of Etowah County to see the fallen officers that have been killed here in the line of duty in Etowah County.”
Entrekin shared his thoughts on the most recent addition to the wall, fallen officer Captain Chris McCurley.
“Chris paid the ultimate sacrifice in a drug raid in Rainbow City,” said Entrekin. “All of us were friends, we were partners, we worked together and it’s just a day that I will never forget and it’s a day that everybody in this county won’t. It was just a terrible day when we had Chris killed, and so many officers wounded that day.”
Entrekin also addressed the negative representation of police officers in media.
“There’s negative stories all the time,” said Entrekin. “There’s always going to be negative stories, but there are so many officers that are losing their lives every day, that are getting ambushed. They don’t ever know when they leave the house if they are coming home or not. Their families don’t know. Just when you see an officer out there tell him you appreciate him for what he does and the sacrifices he makes every day.”
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., will add the names of 360 officers killed in the line of duty. These include the 129 officers killed nationally in 2017, as well as the names of those killed in the past, whose stories of sacrifice have been discovered in the past year.
A statewide memorial is located in Anniston.
“It’s right in our backyard, which is really nice to have,” said Sheriff’s Office Director of Communications Natalie Barton. “We encourage everyone to go and visit that as well.”
Locally, the memorial lists 20 names, naming fallen officers from 1888 until 2001. The memorial was established in 1998 and was originally located at Noccalula Falls. The memorial was moved to the Etowah County Courthouse lawn several years ago.
“I don’t remember myself the last time an officer here was killed, but the sheriff does,” said Barton.
Barton also expressed gratitude for every employee of the sheriff’s office
“It’s a dangerous job,” said Barton. “It’s definitely a calling. It’s not just a job.”
Barton asked everyone to thank officers and their families for all that they do to keep Etowah County safe.