Jacksonville closes out National Police Week remembering officers who died on-duty

The ceremony honored the seven total police officers, NCIS officers and county deputies who have died on-duty in Onslow County and Jacksonville.
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 8:42 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The City of Jacksonville is ending National Police Week and starting up National Peace officers Memorial Day by remembering their fallen brothers in blue.

The city held its fallen officers memorial service for the two Jacksonville police officers and the five other deputies and NCIS officers who died in the city and the county.

“The factor that we may lose our life, that’s not something that we want to sit there and dwell on,” said Jacksonville Police Captain Chuck James. “I’m going out there, and I’m doing CPR, saving people’s lives. When someone breaks into someone’s house, we’re the people that come to help. And so, we don’t think about, and we can’t think about the negative 24/7. We’re here to help. To do the right thing.”

The ceremony was held at the city’s Peace Officer Memorial, where the name of two of their officers who have died is etched in stone. It permanently serves as a reminder to officers as they come to duty and leave to go home of their brothers in blue, who don’t have that opportunity anymore.

“I’ve known officers who’ve died in the line of duty,” said Jacksonville Police Chief Michael Yaniero. “I’ve known their families, and I’ve worked with them. I’ve sat in cars with them for hours and hours.”

This year was the first time the ceremony took place since the memorial was finished in 2019. COVID protocols did not allow for it to happen last year. Since the last time the ceremony would have taken place, 12 police officers in North Carolina, and over 150 nationwide, have died. Because of the spread of the coronavirus, 2020 would end up being the deadliest year on record for law enforcement officers, according to the city.

“We’ve got to continue that conversation that we have every single day about how we can make our community better,” said Yaniero. “How we can make it better, not the police. Our community.”

It’s a harsh reality for officers every day, the fact that they could not make it home and suffer the same fate as the officers they may never have known, but whose names they will never forget.

“These guys made the ultimate sacrifice,” said James. “And we honor them by making sure that this place is seen by them and it’s not just tucked away downtown somewhere.”

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