After a 15-year hiatus, Chaplain Lee Shaw pulled out all the stops for National Peace Officer’s Memorial Day on Tuesday. A combination of bagpipes, an honor guard, a riderless mount, a poetry reading, a minute of silence, a volley salute and the releasing of doves marked the noon ceremony honoring fallen law enforcement officers in California and across the country.
“Law enforcement is not about badges and uniforms, it’s about taking a stand to preserve the rights of our neighbors and shielding them from danger,” Shaw told the crowd at Veterans Memorial Park.
Tuesday’s ceremony was just one of many across the United States honoring the 21,541 names engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 2017, 129 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty.
Six of those were given a place at the “table of honor” in Napa. A rose was placed on their settings as each name was called: Officer Keith W. Boyer of the Whittier Police Department, Officer Lucas F. Chellew of California Highway Patrol in South Sacramento, Deputy Jason Allen Garner of Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Robert Rumfelt of Lake County Sheriff’s Department and Officer Andrew J. Camilleri, Sr. of CHP in Hayward.
“These are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives … their courage was boundless,” Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley said before saying the roll call. “We must honor the fact that today simply putting on the uniform of a peace officer has … become an act of ultimate courage.”
Haley said something notable – something human – about each peace officer lost in California last year. One enjoyed playing the drums, another was known as the “baby whisperer,” another called his father after every shift. Each one had families, she said. Each one had “humanity behind the badge.”
Two of the six were CHP officers, said CHP Capt. John Blencowe.
The last CHP officer to be killed while on duty out of Napa was Officer George F. Butler in 1986, Blencowe said. Butler, who was involved in a helicopter accident in Solano County, left behind a wife and daughters.
“He will never be forgotten,” Blencowe said.
One of Butler’s daughters, Jacqueline Shikowitz, was in attendance. Napa Police Lt. Chase Haag presented her with a bouquet.
“I think it’s very important to remember all of our fallen officers throughout the country, just to remind people the sacrifices that are taken,” said Shikowitz, who is now an evidence technician with the Napa County Sheriff’s Office.
Butler Bridge on Highway 29 over the Napa River is named after Shikowitz’s father.
Shaw, who organized the event, said that he stopped putting together the annual memorial because not enough people were coming out to support the agencies. Although many in attendance Tuesday were members of law enforcement or affiliated agencies, Shaw said that he was happy with the way the service turned out. He hopes now that social media is around to promote events like this, that he’ll be able to do it again next year.
Most of the event was captured on video and is being streamed by the Napa Police on Facebook.