For National Police Week, the Odessa Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies will be hosting a memorial service to honor fellow officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
This memorial is particularly poignant this year, as OPD Spokesman Steve LeSueur said there has been an approximate 75 percent increase in gunfire related deaths for law enforcement nationally in the last year. Why, he said, comes down to several factors.
“In the last few years, there’s obviously been an increase in ambush attacks. The aggression is definitely there,” LeSueur said. “There’s a lot of reasons, not just one thing.”
National Police Week was instated in 1962 as a week to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty over the last year. While OPD and the Ector County Sheriff’s Office haven’t seen any officers killed in the last year, LeSueur said there have been 18 officers killed in the state of Texas and one K-9 in that time who will be honored at the ceremony with a wreath ceremony.
The memorial ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Friday at Sunset Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home, 6801 East Highway 80.
LeSueur said eight local officers will be honored at the ceremony who have been killed in the line of duty, including the five officers who have been killed in the history of OPD, one Ector County deputy, one Midland County deputy, and a Lubbock police officer who is buried in Odessa.
“They gave the ultimate sacrifice,” LeSueur said. “They risked their lives protecting others and it’s important that they get remembered and that their lives are honored.”
Of the five OPD officers who have been killed, three of them were killed on Sept. 8, 2007 on what many consider the darkest day in OPD. Cpls. Arlie Jones and Scott Gardener were shot and killed instantly that day by 59-year-old Larry Neil White, who was suffering from cancer that later killed him, and Cpl. Abel Marquez died four days later from injuries.
Two other OPD officers, Officer Scott Stanton Smith and Cpl. Gordon Terry Toal, died in separate motorcycle crashes in 1988 and 1982, respectively.
Also being remembered during the event will be Ector County Deputy Thad West, Midland County Deputy Mike Naylor, and Lubbock Officer Rodney Kendricks.
The OPD Honor Guard and Midland Police Department Honor Guard also flew to Washington D.C. for National Police Week, and will be back in time for the memorial service Friday, LeSueur said.
OPD is encouraging the public to show their support during National Police Week by replacing their porch lights with blue bulbs.
- What: Police memorial ceremony.
- When: 10 a.m. Friday.
- Where: Sunset Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home, 6801 East Highway 80.