Washington City Police chief reflects on harsh realities of police work at annual awards ceremony

L-R: Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams presents detective Josh Finona the Officer of the Year award at a ceremony held at the Community Center in Washington City, Utah, May 15, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — While officers throughout Washington City converged for an awards ceremony Wednesday with the intent of recognizing outstanding performance, a large focus of the evening was dedicated to fallen officers.

The event was held at the Washington City Community Center and was attended by more than 100 officers, family members, civic leaders and volunteers.

Officers donned their dress uniforms, complete with crisp white shirts and badges wrapped in a mourning band placed across the middle to honor Peace Officers Memorial Day, which falls on May 15 each year and is part of National Police Week.

A group photo of the Washington City Police Department during an awards ceremony hosted by the Washington City Police Department at the community center, Washington City, Utah, May 15, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The event was officiated by recently appointed Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams, who spoke first about his views on the department and his officers.

“I truly feel we are an elite department,” he said. “We work hard, and we have high expectations and standards for our officers. There is nothing I ask of my officers that I wouldn’t do myself.”

Williams went on to say the police department as a whole has “huge respect” for the community and that his primary goal is to maintain the elevated quality of life that Washington City residents enjoy through the department’s focus on public safety.

Williams also reminded the audience of the harsh realities of the job, stating that in 2018 more than 160 officers were killed and another 55,000 were injured in the line of duty, noting that two of the officers killed were in Utah.

The “Fallen Comrade Table” is set up in honor of those officers killed in the line of duty, Washington City, Utah, May 15, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Williams then drew the crowds’ attention to a small round table set for one in a quiet corner of the room that stood apart from the festive tables scattered across the dining hall.

Referred to as the “Fallen Comrade Table,” the table was set with a single place setting as a way of symbolizing the fact that some members of the law enforcement community throughout the country are no longer able to attend such ceremonies as the one held Wednesday.

Williams solemnly explained the various items on the table and the meaning behind them.

The table is set for one, though the number is many.
The chair is empty, as they can no longer join us.
The tablecloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their intentions to serve their communities.
The candle is lit – symbolizing their spirit to serve.
The glasses are inverted – they cannot drink nor toast with us this day.
A slice of lemon is on the plate to remind us of their bitter fate.
The single red rose displayed in the vase is to remind us of their families and loved ones.
The salt upon the plate is symbolic of their tears.
The blue ribbon tied so prominently on the vase reminds us of the “Thin Blue Line,” which stands strong before those who would destroy law and order in our great nation.
The officer has received his final call, symbolizing the end of watch, leaving his radio silent.
Many have served with these peace officers and called them “partner,” relied upon them, depended upon their might and their aid. Surely they have not forsaken us.
They watch over us still, and we honor them today.

In honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day, all officers within the department renewed their commitment to serve the community by taking the “Oath of Honor” Wednesday evening, as well as signing a large poster of the oath reaffirming their commitment to ethical behavior that will be placed on a wall at the Washington City Police Department.

Nine awards were also presented during the festivities, a complete list of which can be found in the photo gallery below.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.  

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.


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