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Fallen law officers remembered, monument plannedTell North Platte what you think
 
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Gun salute, honoring fallen officers.
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Color guard presents the flags to open the service.
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Sheriff Jerome Kramer
Courtesy Photo­Image
The look of the proposed monument.
Photo by Joe Chitwood
The crowd shows their respect.

Lincoln County Law enforcement announced a plan Monday to erect a permanent monument honoring officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the citizens of the Lincoln County area.

The announcement was made Monday to a crowd of 60-75 during a National Peace Officers Memorial service and luncheon in North Platte’s Memorial Park.

Each year, the public is invited to join in honoring the 11 Lincoln County officers that lost their lives in the line of duty.

Lincoln County Sheriff Jerome Kramer thanked everyone for supporting law enforcement and taking time to remember fallen officers.

“We have been meeting here at this spot for many years to honor those who gave their lives for the people of North Platte, Lincoln County, the state of Nebraska and the United States of America,” Kramer said. “I think this is the largest turnout we have ever had.”

Union Pacific Special Agent Kenneth Persinger took things a step further when he announced, “We noticed that there is not an actual physical memorial, so we decided to build one.”

Members of the UP Railroad Police Department, Nebraska State Patrol, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Nebraska Game and Parks Law Enforcement formed a non-profit organization to raise the funds.

Persinger said the goal is $35,000, which would place the monument at Iron Horse Park, near the 20th Century Veteran’s Memorial.

It will be a three-stone monument, black with a center piece, around eight-foot-tall, and the side pieces will have the names of the officers who have died in the line of duty, Persinger said.

Kramer said lawmen make it possible for “people to live their lives without the constant fear of assault, death or persecution that much of the world faces.”

Kramer said he once visited a foreign country and the people who live there told him that “they make no plans for the future because they don’t plan on having a future. But thanks to the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to law enforcement, our citizens don’t have that gloom for a future.”

He urged people to keep the families of the fallen in their prayers.

“They have a void in their lives that will never be filled,” he said.

North Platte Police and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department Chaplin Gary Smith urged officers to rise above the fray.

“To those who wear the badge I say, ‘give when others take, love when others hate and help when others abuse,’” Smith said. “In doing this, one day you will receive everything that God has to give to you.”

A color guard presented the flag and the Hershey pep band performed the National Anthem.

Nebraska State Patrol Sargent Robert Veal outlined the plan to erect the monument.

“We are here to honor those officers who gave their lives in the line of duty,” he said. “Last year, Special Agent Kenny Persinger noticed we have monuments in Washington D.C. to honor those who gave their lives for the country and one in Grand Island to honor those in the state, but none in the Lincoln County area.”

The vision came together. Phone calls were made, emails sent and representatives of law enforcement formed a committee to study the possibility for a monument, Persinger said.

The service ended with a gun salute and Taps by Christian Folchert.

Retired Railroad Special Agent Larry Campbell, who also served on the North Platte city council, spent at least 25 years in law enforcement. He praised the idea of the memorial.

“We have been fortunate to have great crews in every department over the years and have public support,” he said.

Kramer said he has participated in the service for many years.

“I am not sure when they started having it here at Memorial Park,” he said, “but I have been coming for a long time.”

With the negative publicity about law officers in recent years, Kramer believes memorials make people aware of the job officers perform.

“It is kind of an eye opener,” he said. “I don’t think people realize that when you start talking about 21,000 who have lost their lives nationwide since we began keeping records, you see it is quite a battle we fight.”

Former Lincoln County Sheriff Duane Deterding, with 34 years’ experience in law enforcement, is now a county commissioner. He spoke highly of the memorial services.

“I think I have been to every one of them,” he said. “It is a real good thing for the community and I think they should get out here and support these people. They do a heck of a good job for the city, county and state.”

Deterding said that thankfully, Lincoln County lawmen don’t receive the negativity shown around the country.

“We don’t’ have it, and I thank the news media here for that,” he said. “I am not saying we don’t have issues, but I do know that it is important to support local law enforcement. It is the respectable thing to do.”

He said the planned monument would be “the greatest thing in the world.”

A freewill donation luncheon followed the service, led by Lincoln County Reserve Deputy Kevin Kennedy, who cooked up hamburgers and handed out cookies to the crowd.

Kennedy has been on the reserve force for 17 years.

He said the service is great for the community. “I just wish more people would come out.”

He agrees that local law departments are well respected.

“We just need to get the word out, especially to the younger people, that we are more into the business of trying to control situations,” he said. “Let them know we don’t go in dealing aggressively with people but are just like them, members of the community.”

Even in Lincoln County, officers lay their lives on the line on a daily basis, he said.

“Sometimes we take a lot for granted,” he said.

Veal said construction on the monument will not begin until all the funds are raised.

“We hope to raise the money and have it in place by next year’s memorial service,” he said.

Persinger said tax deductible donations can be made at the North Platte Police Department or the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, or by mail to the Lincoln County Law Enforcement Memorial Inc., PO Box1973, North Platte, NE 69101-1973.


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 5/16/2017
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