As promised I want to describe to you the events which took place this morning at the New Mexico Law Enforcement Memorial. All three major TV networks were there and KRQE's newscast is presented below. That is me in the black Sheriff's hat and grey uniform which you can see presenting a wreath in the middle of the story.
The event was a solemn one, three names were added to the wall this year. The names of Bernalillo County Sheriff''s Deputy James McGrane and Albuquerque Police Officers Richard Smith and Michael King were added to the Wall of Honor. The wall is located in the courtyard of the Police Academy in Santa Fe. It is a constant reminder to the cadets in school there of how important their training at the academy is.
Michael King and Richard Smith were shot and killed while serving a medical order on a disturbed man in August of 2005. John Hyde, age 48, was arrested for the murders. John Hyde was also accused of killing 3 others earlier in the day, prior to the two APD Officers trying to pick him up on the medical order.
James McGrane was shot and killed March 22, 2006 during a routine traffic stop in Tijeras Canyon. Michael Paul Astorga was arrested after a massive manhunt. He was found in Juarez Mexico. When James McGrane stopped Michael Paul Astorga that night he had no idea that the driver was wanted for a previous murder and was on the run from law enforcement.
A coincidence in all three murdered officer's was the fact that all three had left law enforcement and then come back. Michael King and Richard Smith retired from APD then returned to work as junior officers basically starting their careers all over again from scratch. James Mc Grane left police work and went to work for the U.S. Postal Service for many years before returning to his first love as a deputy for the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office in 2002.
Many dignitaries and law enforcement from throughout the state attended the ceremony and the heads of the two agencies whom the fallen officers belonged gave speeches. Sheriff Darren White of Bernalillo County and Chief of Police Ray Schultz gave moving speeches honoring their fallen comrades. Bagpipes played,helicopters flew over, flags were lowered and raised, and the silence was broken by the loud pops of the 21 gun salute. Then the families returned to their homes to deal with their loss. I have seen many of the same families year after year. Their hearts must break again and again each time they hear the bagpipes play. I know my heart aches and I feel a lump in my throat even though I have heard them every year since I first became an officer in 1988.
Eight columns of names have been added to the original wall as through the years names are added. It would be nice if no more names ever had to be added. Often quoted in the death of a peace officer is the bible quote "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)." This is what Law Enforcement is all about. Whether you give of your life with all the nights and endless hours away from your family, or you give of your life with the supreme sacrifice, all peace officers give. Its not a job, its a calling. God Bless the soldiers and peace officers who have made the supreme sacrifice.