“It’s been a tough week.”
Those were the few words Sheriff Bill Elder could utter, holding back tears, when asked how he felt Wednesday at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in Washington, D.C. Thousands of candles lit up the National Mall this week as he placed El Paso County sheriff’s badges next to the names of slain Deputies Hugh Martin and Brent Holloway and when he saw the newly inscribed tribute to Deputy Micah Flick for the first time.
Elder considered the three deputies — killed in the line of duty in 1992, 1995 and 2018, respectively — friends and attended high school with Martin.
But, ultimately Elder said, it’s a week of healing, one that culminated at home Friday at the Pikes Peak Region Peace Officers Memorial Service in Memorial Park.
“This week gives us an opportunity to share with the families of the fallen,” Elder said, adding that Flick’s family accompanied him to D.C.
“We get to see that there are so many nationwide and in our community that support who we are and what we do.”
To those who choose to disrespect law enforcement, Elder said resolutely, “The time to stop the falling is now.”
Pikes Peak region law enforcement has not had to cope with a line-of-duty death since February 2018, when Flick was killed while attempting to arrest suspected car thief Manuel Zetina in the parking lot of the Murray Hill Apartments.
The area has had close calls, though. In early August, Colorado Springs police officer Cem Duzel suffered a traumatic brain injury during a shootout with Karrar Noaman Al Khammasi, 31. He is recovering at Craig Hospital in Englewood, which specializes in spinal cord and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation.
Mayor John Suthers, the memorial service’s keynote speaker, told the audience that Friday was about honoring those who wear a badge.
“They all give sweat, some give blood and a few give their lives,” Suthers said as wind whipped through the park.
Though proper treatment is integral to paying tribute to law enforcement, so too is holding them accountable to exercise their power responsibly, Suthers said.
“We should never tolerate officers abusing their power, and one reason is to not disrespect those who carry out their responsibilities with honor,” he said.
Twitter: @lizmforster Phone: 636-0193