Memorial service honors officers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 16, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — Dozens of officers, court officials and emergency personnel honored the memory of fallen peace officers at a memorial service Tuesday afternoon.
Members of agencies across the county attended the 17th Annual Rowan County Peace Officers Memorial Service at First Presbyterian Church. The event was part of National Police Week.
Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten was one of several who spoke to those in attendance, thanking officers and their families for service.
From a national perspective, Auten said, the numbers have been better thus far in 2012 than 2011.
“… While losing one officer in the line of duty is too many, at this time last year in the country there had been 81 officers killed in the line of duty. As of last night there had been 36 killed,” Auten said. “We hope it’s a safer day for officers in our community.”
Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins thanked elected officials and court officials for temporarily stopping court proceedings Tuesday for the service.
“I have the advantage each day — because I get to see it with my own eyes — of watching the police officers in the community here in Salisbury work,” Collins said. “In doing so, I’m reminded often of the amount of effort and work they put in making our community safer.”
Wearing dress uniforms, chaplains and officers spoke about the seriousness of the job.
“Today is a sad reminder of the harsh reality of our profession,” Collins said. “We still do this every year for the purpose of remembering those who have served our community well and who have given all they can give.”
Seven officers were killed in the line of duty in North Carolina last year: Nash County Investigator Warren Basco Lewis III; Sanford Police Officer Elieser Colonroche; Winston Salem Police Officer Russell Mark Willingham Jr.; Green County Deputy David Jennings Dawson III; NCDOC Parole Officer Jeffrey Lynn Settle; Moore County Deputy Richard Lee Rhyne; NC Department of Public Safety Correctional Officer William Wright.