Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Chief Dotson's Memorial Breakfast Remarks

Thank you Art, and good morning and welcome to the Metropolitan Police Department’s Annual Memorial Breakfast. 

As I entered this room this morning, I was humbled by the sheer magnitude and the weight of this morning’s event. I saw many familiar faces of friends, co-workers and colleagues…it was good to catch up for a few minutes.

But I also saw the faces of our extended family… and it reminded me of the real reason we gather at this time every year.

Today marks our 27th Annual Memorial Breakfast…and before I go on I want to thank some very special people for making this very special occasion possible. 

I want to start by thanking Doug Albrecht and the St. Louis Police Foundation.  Because of Doug’s leadership and the Foundation’s support this event has grown even more successful. …and just when we thought it had reached its pinnacle we received even more support for the St. Louis Community.  This year’s breakfast is being completely underwritten by a very generous donation from Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield.  Because of their support, today’s event has expanded to over 1,200 supporters.  And as a side note, there are more survivor families in attendance this morning then ever before. 

To the families, I say we are glad you are here with us and on behalf of myself and the men and women of the Department, you have our eternal appreciation and respect for the sacrifices you and your families have made.  Thank you.

This morning we will honor the 164 St. Louis Police Officers killed in the line of duty from 1863 to 2011. This event occurs in the shadow of last weeks National Police Week ceremonies in Washington DC

As a brief history, in 1962, President John F. Kennedy recognized the countless and selfless acts peace officers perform daily, by signing a proclamation designating May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day. Every year, that date coincides with National Police Week and attracts thousands of law enforcement officers and survivor families, from near and far to Washington DC, and it is a moving tribute.

As a new Chief, the emotion associated with events like today is something I did not anticipate.  For those of you who have never visited Police Headquarters there is a memorial on the 5th floor that pays tribute to all 164 officers who have died in the line of duty.  So the other day as I was thinking about what I wanted to say I stood in front of that memorial and stared at the pictures of those remembered in death for what they did in life… and I read the names of Strehl, Meriwether, Stanze, Barwick, Branson, Sloan, Jerabek, Brown, Kowalski, Moore, Haynes and Hall…and those are only the names of those who lost their lives since I became an officer.

These fallen men made the ultimate sacrifice for our city, and their sacrifices should be a constant reminder to citizens how truly important this job is.

Each day when an officer leaves his or her home and their family to protect and serve the citizens of St. Louis, they risk their lives for the safety and well-being of fellow citizens, most of whom they will never meet. This exemplifies a true hero.

As I said, as Chief of Police the emotion is something I did not anticipate being so strong, and bearing such a heavy heart, I remember all 164 St. Louis police officers, who are my brothers, and who made the ultimate sacrifice. I am eternally grateful for their selflessness and courageous service.

Thank you and god bless all the officers here today.

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