BRISTOL - Past and present Bristol police officers gathered to honor those who gave their life in the line of duty for the safety of others at the second annual Memorial Ceremony.
Officer Vinny Infante, who helped organize the ceremony, said a similar ceremony will be held every year during National Police Week.
“It’s so important to honor the men and women who gave their lives serving,” said Infante.
Three officers from Bristol were recognized during the ceremony.
James McNamee died on Jan. 16, 1930. He was the first Bristol police officer killed on duty. He was shot at the Ebb Filling Station at the corner of Stafford Avenue and Washington Street, before it was demolished, while attempting to apprehend three car thieves.
James Burns, police said, died May 29, 1941. While investigating a domestic dispute on lower Union Street he was gunned down by the male suspect, who was his brother-in-law, and who also wounded another officer before being taken into custody.
Ernest Schilke died on May 17, 1944, during a rescue at the Wallace Barnes Rolling Mill on Broad Street. A factory worker and Schilke were overcome by noxious fumes and died at the scene.
Mayor Ken Cockayne noted that the ceremony is a great way to recognize current and fallen officers.
“These men and women put their lives on the line every day,” said Cockayne. “It’s sad the way they are treated sometimes, when they are the ones called for protection.”
Former Bristol Mayor Bill Stortz acknowledged the importance of supporting the Police Department and showing respect for fallen officers.
“We take their service for granted and don’t realize how vulnerable officers can be at times,” said Stortz. “This is a very serious event, it’s necessary to recognize the police department’s officers and their service.”
The monument where the ceremony was held was donated roughly 40 years ago. Since then it has been redesigned and cleaned up, explained officer Dustin Delmonte, who helped organize the event.
“People didn’t know the memorial was there, it was covered by shrubs,” said Delmonte. “So we thought to make it more easily seen, and now we have the idea to redo the sidewalk around the memorial and engrave the names of the fallen heroes onto it.”