It has been 47 years since a Crawford County law enforcement officer has died in the line of duty, but that does not mean it can't happen anytime, and a memorial service is a tribute to those officers and a reminder to be vigilant.
The annual Illinois Peace Officers Memorial Service to honor law enforcement officers killed in Illinois in the line of duty, including six who died in 2017, will be Thursday, May 3, at 11 a.m. at the Illinois Peace Officer Memorial sculpture on the Illinois State Capitol grounds in Springfield.
"This annual ceremony honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their communities," said Illinois Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge President Chris Southwood. "Every man and woman in this difficult and dangerous profession knows the risks they face every time they put on the badge. This memorial service is a testament to those risks and to the selfless courage of the officers who laid down their lives to keep us safe."
It was early in the morning of June 1, 1970, when Oblong Police Chief Jack Fancil, 25, confronted two men coming from the storage building behind the grocery store. A third man fatally shot Fancil, and he later died a the hospital. Fancil has also been recognized in past ceremonies.
The six officers killed during 2017 will be recognized during the May 3 ceremony and their names added to the memorial. They include Officer Raymond Murrell, Bloomingdale Police Department, killed January 19; Trooper Ryan Albin, Illinois State Police, June 28;Officer Bernard Domagala, Chicago Police Department; September 5; Correctional Officer Kevin Brewer, Will County Sheriff's Office, October 14; Officer Andre Van Vegten, Chicago Police Department, November 2; and Officer Jaimie Cox, Rockford Police Department, November 5.
In addition, two officers who were confirmed to have died in the line of duty in the past but who had not yet been officially included on the memorial will be recognized. These include Chief Cyrus Van Sickle, Illinois Central Railroad Police, killed Feb. 11, 1916; and Officer William Burke, New York Central Railroad Police in Chicago, August 29, 1929. The day's observance will begin with the lineup of squad cars from around the state from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The procession will depart the fairgrounds at 8:30 a.m. and arrive at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 524 E. Lawrence, for a memorial church service at 9:30 a.m. The procession will then travel to the State Capitol for the 11 a.m. ceremony. The ceremony will be held at the Illinois State Library across the street from the Capitol in case of inclement weather.
The Illinois FOP State Lodge is one of the founding organizations of the Illinois Peace Officers Memorial. The other founding organizations include the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Illinois Police Association, Illinois Sheriff's Association, and Police Benevolent and Protective Association. Supporting organizations include Blue Knights of Illinois, Illinois Gold Star Families, and Illinois Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS)
The Illinois Police Officers Memorial Committee was established in 1985. The monument in Springfield bears the names of the officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their communities. Every year on the first Thursday of May, they hold a ceremony to pay tribute to fallen officers and their families. For more information, visit www.illinoispolicememorial.org.
The Fraternal Order of Police, founded in 1915, is the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. With a proud tradition of officers representing officers, the FOP is the most respected and most recognized police organization in the country. The Illinois FOP, chartered in 1963, is the second largest State Lodge, proudly representing more than 34,000 active duty and retired police officers - more than 10 percent of all FOP members nationwide. Visit www.ilfop.org for more information.
National Police Week is May 13-19. You can show your support for the men and women of law enforcement during the month of May with a blue light outside your home or place of business.