Fallen police officers honored in memorial service


Lisa Hodges put extra special meaning into the singing of "Amazing Grace."

Remembering fallen officers - heroes who lost their lives in the line of duty - was at the heart of a meaningful memorial service held on Wednesday evening, May 11, 2022 at Life Church in Rockford.

Chaplain Cal Culpepper of Court Street United Methodist gave the invocation in dedication to officers.

Lucas Greenly played bagpipes as the Northern Illinois Multi-Jurisdictional Color Guard opened the ceremony.

All stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Lisa Hodges brought the song "Amazing Grace" to life with great passion.

Officer Katy Statler of the Rockford Police Department spoke the words to “Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep" written in 1932. The poem was written to offer comfort to those who would mourn for her after her passing and the author seems to welcome death not as the ending of life, but as the beginning of another.

Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd read a roll call of names of officers who were killed in the line of duty and the date of their end of watch.

The officers had served in Winnebago County, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and in Rockford and Rockton police departments. Candles were lit in memory of loved ones by either family members or an officer. The lighting was followed by placing a rose in a wreath. Anyone who has lost a relative in the military had the option of lighting a candle in honor of that person.

Among law enforcement, a few of the most recognizable names locally include former Rockton Police Chief Arthur Weston who died in 1977 after a struggle with a suspect that led to his fatal heart attack. In 2001 Rockford Police Detective Kevin Rice was shot and killed while off duty. Jaimie Cox lost his life during a traffic stop in 2017. Trooper Brooke Jones-Story was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer near Freeport while she was conducting a traffic stop in 2021.

Police were lifted by an “Officer's Prayer” spoken by Chaplain Jim Brock of St. Rita's Catholic Church. Chaplain Brock asked that the police be kept on the path of courage, strength and keep them safe, allowing each to go home to their families.

Lisa Hodges shared a special message in a reading.

Chief Redd made a video that takes a realistic look at challenges or interactions that those in law enforcement face or experience on a daily basis. Clips were shown of funerals for fallen officers, a few who were named in the roll call.

Nicole Rodden stirred emotions with the singing, “Heaven Was Needing a Hero.”

Lisa Ditzler read a powerful passage in 2 Timothy 4:1-8. A summary of these verses speaks of those who go against God's word who need to be corrected, rebuked and encouraged- with great patience and careful instruction; and following God's truth. “But you keep your head in all situations, endure hardships and do the work of an evangelist; to discharge the duties of ministry."

Verse 7 says, “I have finished the race and I have kept the faith. On that day the crown of righteousness; the Lord who is the righteous judge will award me on that day, and not only me, but all who have longed for his appearance."

Deputy Coroner James Kirby captured everyone's attention as he sang, “Tell My Father," written by Frank Wildhorn.

Seth Beard asked that everyone listen carefully to the words from the message in Romans 13:1-5. “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except that which God has established. Consequently, whoever rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." 

The passage speaks of being free from authority by doing things the right way. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, since there is a reason authority is in place. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. An urging to submit to the authorities is stressed.

Chaplain Kenneth Hendley of New Life Free Will Baptist Church made closing remarks followed by the benediction.

As bagpipes played, the Honor Guard had a recession of the colors.

Refreshments and snacks were served after the service. This was one of a variety of different events that commemorated National Police Week.

Every day, brave law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to keep us all safe. Those who were killed in the line of duty will never be forgotten, as each has made the ultimate sacrifice.

Click or tap on the photo below to view an image gallery of the memorial service.

Two law enforcement officers stood guard at Life Church in Rockford on May 11.
Trooper C. Fidecki, Trooper D. Monaco, LT. H. Hansen and Captain J. Blanchette took part in the Memorial Service as supporters of fallen officers and their families.
Rockford Police Chief Karla Redd was joined by two members of her department at the memorial event.
Rockton Police Department Patrol Sergeant Justin Jobst and Patrol Officer Nicole Papworth participated in the ceremony.
The Northern Illinois Multi-Jurisdictional Honor Guard opened the ceremony with sounds of bagpiper playing.
Deputy Coroner James Kirby lovingly performed the song, 'Tell My Father.'
Four generations of the Weston family honored the memory of former Rockton Police Chief Arthur Weston, whose end of watch was in 1977.
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