WASHINGTON CITY— While officers throughout Washington City converged for an awards ceremony last Wednesday with the intent of recognizing outstanding performance, a large focus of the evening was dedicated to the challenges many faced and the fallen officers left in the wake of 2020.
The event was held at the Washington City Community Center and was attended by more than 100 officers, family members, civic leaders and volunteers.
Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams, in his third year leading the department, officiated the event and spoke of the commitment that his officers consistently demonstrate in service to their community. And, while for many, 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging and significant years in recent history across the country, Williams said morale within the department remained high and much of that has to do with the strong support from the residents of Washington City.
That dedication to serving the community was renewed as officers stood in line and took the “Oath of Honor” Tuesday evening donning their crisp white shirts and dress uniforms.
Washington City Police Lt. Kory Klotz also commented on the role of the family and spouses that support the officer and the effects of the job that are far-reaching and extend to the families – including long hours and shift work that the job entails.
He also said the support of the family is a key element that plays an integral role in the officers’ ability to perform their job.
“Without them obviously we wouldn’t be anything,” Klotz said. “That’s why we try and recognize them for the sacrifices they make to let us do what we’re doing out here in the community.”
The awards dinner also provides an opportunity for the officers and their spouses to enjoy a night out together and to have fun, he said.
Williams also spoke of the sacrifice the families of the officers’ make and the many missed birthdays, anniversaries and other important milestones when the spouses are on duty and unable to attend the functions.
He also spoke of the hundreds of officers nationwide who lost their lives in the line of duty last year.
In 2018, more than 160 officers were killed in the line of duty according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. That number more than doubled in 2020 with 360 officers killed.
In honor of the fallen officers, the audience’s attention was drawn to the small round table in the corner of the conference room that appeared much different than the festive tables scattered throughout the room.
Referred to as the “Fallen Comrade Table,” the table was set with a single place setting as a way of symbolizing the fact that hundreds of police officers throughout the country are no longer able to attend such ceremonies as the one held Tuesday.
In fact, those officers will not be able to attend any ceremonies or functions because they are no longer here, Williams said.
The symbolic meaning behind the table was explained by Stan McCauley, a retired evidence technician with the department who went over the symbolic meaning behind the table setting.
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.
During the festivities, 21 awards were presented – 11 for achievement and 10 for physical fitness and this year the “Supervisor of the Year” award was presented to the entire department for its COVID-19 response. A complete list of the awards can be found in the photo gallery below.
The Washington County Republican Women organization also presented the Washington City Police Department with an award for the excellence the department has demonstrated during a difficult year.
The Hurricane Police Department provided coverage in Washington City so that officers could enjoy the evening with their families.
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
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