A motorcade of law-enforcement vehicles traveled down 15th Street in Rock Island on Sunday afternoon, passing below a huge American flag draped overhead and held in place by cranes on either side of the road. The procession was part of the annual Quad-Cities Law Enforcement Officers Memorial honoring 46 local fallen officers from the 1800s through the 21st century.
The first part of Sunday’s event was a memorial services at Heritage Church, 2700 Middle Road, Bettendorf. The event included a video presentation, music and opening remarks by retired Secret Service agent Bill Albracht. The procession traveled from the church to the Rock Island County Justice Center, 1317 3rd Ave., Rock Island, where the 30-minute service was held at the officers’ memorial. Vehicles were parked in front of the center, where friends, family and the community gathered for the proceedings.
A color guard, with flags from the United States, Iowa and Illinois began the quiet proceedings. Rock Island County Sheriff Jeff Boyd welcomed the participants. “We’re here to memorialize the people who made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
Bettendorf Police Chaplain Alex Sierra quoted the Bible from John 15:13: “Greater love has no man than this, that someone lay down his life for a friend.” He then led a moment of silence and a prayer.
One by one, as the names of the fallen were read, family members, friends and fellow officers placed a single white carnation. At the end of the ceremony, the flowers formed a wreath on a white circular logo with a blue badge that read “Some gave all.” One red carnation was placed in memory of Bettendorf Police Explorer Sheryl Ann Horak, who was 15 when she died April 25, 1987, after being shot and killed during a ride-along as she waited in a squad car.
After a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace,” seven officers fired a total of 21 shots in a salute. While three buglers sounded taps, officers in their dress uniforms raised their hands in salute to their fallen comrades.
The weekend observance began with an officers’ appreciation dinner Friday at the Eldridge Community Center, 400 S. 16th Ave., Eldridge.
Troy Sullivan, of Bettendorf, is a member of the Scott County Sheriff’s Department who served as president of the memorial. “I think it went really well,” he said. “We couldn’t have had a more beautiful day.”
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Joan Massey of Moline said the ceremony was heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. “I’m glad they’re not forgotten,” she said. The event, she said, reminds the public that “a normal day could be their last.”
Massey’s son, auxiliary officer Ty Massey, of the Colona Police Department, drowned in 1993 while checking a report about a car that had gone over the Interstate 80 bridge into the Rock River. His son, Tyler, “never got to meet his dad,” she said. “(The ceremony) helps Tyler know his dad died a hero.”
Taps was sounded not once, but three times, in a cascade that flowed through the somber gathering. Buglers Bill Hall, of the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department; Duane Miller, of Eldridge; and Kevin Bohach each started playing the familiar 23 notes as a kind of “round” to provide a compelling musical backdrop.
Hall was accompanied by an eye-catching cohort: K-9 Hawk, a 9-year-old German shepherd wearing a bright red “search and rescue” vest decorated with a variety of pins.