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Memorial service honors 31 law enforcement officers killed in Pikes Peak region

May 19, 2017 Updated: May 19, 2017 at 10:27 pm
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Caption +
El Paso County Sheriffs Department Honor Guard salute the grave of Lt. Cecilia C.C. Cipriani at Evergreen Cemetery following the 24th Annual Pikes Peak Region Peace Officers' Memorial Day Service was held at New Life Church on Friday May 19, 2017. Cipriani, who was 32 at the time was shot and killed at her Ivywild-area home November 16, 1990. Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette.

Uniforms were pressed, pivots were sharp and taps rang out clear. More than 100 law enforcement officers across the Pikes Peak region hit every cue during Friday's annual Peace Officers Memorial.

The organization of the ceremony was in stark contrast to the reason they were there: to honor those officers who died amid the violence and chaos of the job. Thirty-one officers have been killed in the region since 1895.

This year was lucky.

No new names needed to be added to the wall of fallen officers, but the tears from those present showed wounds that still haven't healed.

The Colorado Springs Police Department has been hit particularly hard over the years, with 13 of the fallen officers coming from its ranks. One of them was Dennis Ives, a motorcycle officer who was run off the road in 1975 on his way to help cover a parade. His death is still unsolved, his son, CSPD officer Timothy Ives said.

But it's not just those personal ties that make the ceremony meaningful, Ives said. Because all of the departments support each other and work together, a loss for one is a loss for all, he said.

Garrett Swasey is the perfect example. Though he was a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs officer, he still rushed to Planned Parenthood in 2015 to help stop an active shooter who had already killed civilians and then later died himself.

"He was on a call for us (CSPD)," Ives said.

The sacrifices officers and their families make are real, but so is their honor and commitment to community, the event's speaker Sam Hendrix said. It's why he hopes to join the profession one day.

"That's my character. I like helping people," Hendrix said.

The soon-to-be eighth-grader was asked to read his persuasive speech on why it's important to support law enforcement. In it, he walked through the life of a fictional officer who daily leaves his family, perhaps after "having too much of his wife's homemade chicken pot pie", for "his job's unknown." But it's a story that easily could be true for the sworn sitting in front of him.

"Honestly, none of us know if we'll go back home tonight when we leave our homes, but most of us don't purposefully walk into dangerous situations like you do every single day," Hendrix said.

Unlike previous years, there were no blue balloons released this year, since bad weather drove the event inside New Life Church. Instead, blue roses were placed above each picture of the area's fallen.

The officers will continue to be honored Saturday during the 10th Annual Valor Run at 9 a.m. at Memorial Park, followed by the Memorial Ball at 6 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel, 5580 Tech Center Drive. Registration for the race is $25. Registration for the ball is $70 per guest, which includes a beer or glass of wine.

Funds raised will go toward building a permanent site to honor the officers at Memorial Park. The project has been in the works since 2006 and has raised more than $600,000 toward the goal of $1.25 million.

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Contact Kaitlin Durbin: 636-0362

Twitter: @njKaitlinDurbin

Facebook: Kaitlin Durbin

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