The annual South Dakota Law Enforcement Memorial Service was held in Pierre yesterday, May 15, in honor of National Law Enforcement Memorial week. The service is meant to honor all deceased law enforcement officials, particularly those who were killed on duty.
“It’s an event we take great pride in,” Pierre Police Chief Jason Jones said.
The ceremony began at 9:30 a.m. in front of the Law Enforcement Memorial on the northeast side of the Capitol building, adjacent to Capitol Lake. A wreath was laid in front of the memorial by a squad of officers Jones called the “Memorial Program Honor Guard.” David Natvig, Director for the Division of Criminal Investigation, also said a few words.
“We come together this morning to take part in what this memorial stands for, to show our respects for our fallen heroes and to remember those heroes, their families and their friends,” Natvig said.
He also expressed relief that no state police died in the line of duty last year.
“We are thankful for the fact we have not added any new names to the memorial in 2018,” he said.
After Natvig’s speech, another honor guard fired three rifle volleys, and taps were played in honor of the deceased law enforcement officials.
At 10 a.m., a motorcade traveled from the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center on 1302 US-14 to the Madison Avenue Church of Christ on 323 N. Madison Ave.
There, the memorial service proper began around 10:30 a.m.
The memorial service is one of many similar events taking place throughout the country this week. Since 1962, the U.S. President has been requested by a joint house resolution to designate the week of May 15 as national “Police Week,” and the day of May 15 as the official “Peace Officers Memorial Day.” This year, President Trump obliged that request, also proclaiming that all U.S. flags should fly at half-staff.
“I call upon all Americans to observe Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week with appropriate ceremonies and activities,” Trump said in his official proclamation. “I also call on the Governors of the States and Territories and officials of other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day.”
In compliance with Trump’s proclamation, Governor Kristi Noem sent out a news release the morning of Tuesday, May 14, asking that all U.S. flags be flown at half-staff from sunrise on Wednesday, May 15 to sunrise on Thursday, May 16.
“Flags will be at half-staff at the State Capitol in Pierre, and at all public buildings, grounds and facilities throughout the state,” the news release stated.
The governors of other states, such as Iowa and Wyoming, have issued similar orders.
Governor Noem could not attend the memorial ceremonies, due to other commitments.