Police Chief Michael Wynn provided remarks to honor the day.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — On Friday morning, Hartford, Conn. Officer Jill Kidik regained consciousness, surrounded by friends and family.
She will not become the 56th officer killed in the line of duty in the United States this year.
"Officer Kidik was repeatedly stabbed by her assailant after responding to a landlord-tenet dispute. Although we in law enforcement dislike the word routine for any call for service, in this case, there was no indication that this would be a violent encounter," Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn said.
"While Officer Kidik attempted to diffuse the situation she was spontaneously assaulted, knocked to the ground, choked, and stabbed. If not for the timely intervention of maintenance workers and the prompt medical aid provided by her backup, she would be number 56 this year."
In an emotional address to fellow officers, city officials, and those from the general public who gathered in the Common Friday afternoon to honor all of those police officers killed in the line of duty, Wynn shared Kidik's story, demonstrating the dangers of the job.
"On average one American law enforcement officer is killed every 53 hours somewhere in the United States. In 2017, 135 law enforcement officers made the ultimate sacrifice," Wynn said. "As of this morning, 55 American police officers have already paid the ultimate price in 2018."
One of those 55 was in Yarmouth.
"Five weeks ago, Sgt. Sean Gannon of the Yarmouth Police Department was murdered in the line of duty. I never had the honor of meeting Sean but his chief is a friend and a trusted colleague. I know many of his brother and sister officers, many of our officers trained alongside Yarmouth PD in their facility. We share a bond," Wynn said.
"His murderer was a career criminal with over 100 prior offenses, many of them violent. He should not have been at large in the community."
Locally, five officers have died in the line of duty: Capt. Michael Leonard, in 1898; Jailer James Fuller, 1901; Secret Service Operative William Craig, 1902; Officer Leo Sullivan, 1956; and Officer Timothy Shepard, 1988.
Gannon joins those five and more than 22,000 other officers who have been killed in the line of duty since 1791 in America. Those two close to home stories was a change for Wynn. Normally at the annual ceremony, Wynn recites the history of the memorial ceremony and National Police Week, followed by the statistics, and then discusses the duty and the risks of being a police officer.
Kimberly Dawley read a poem on behalf of the Pittsfield Police Department's Wives Group.
But, this year, with those two incidents so recent and so close to the Berkshires, Wynn let those stories make the point.
But, he added, that those violent encounters are only some of the risks officers take in the profession. Earlier this year, Pittsfield Police lost one of their own when Lt. Michael Winston died from a heart attack while on vacation.
"While Lt. Michael Winston's death was not due to a polonius assault, I have no doubt that the stress, conditions, and the impact of our work contributed. Long hours, unpredictable calls, constant vigilance, and overt hostility take a toll on all of our sisters and brothers. We're still devastated by his loss," Wynn said.
"It does us no good to gather and recognize the fallen if we don't take steps to preserve the living. Equipment is important, training is critical, however, access to screening services, counseling, wellness initiatives, resiliency education, fitness programs, and other protective measures are vital. We must do better by our personnel."
The ceremony included Mayor Linda Tyer reading a proclamation honoring the day. Pastor Joseph Farmes provided the invocation and benediction; Retired Lt. Katherine O'Brien read the poem "The Thin Blue Line;" Kimberly Dawley of the Pittsfield Police Department's Wives Group read "My Heart for an Officer;" Mary Brinton played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes; and Ray Kinsella played Taps after roses were laid on the Common stage in front of pictures of the five officers who died locally.
National Police Week began in 1962 and for years Pittsfield has held a ceremony. The event serves as a reminder of the risk officers take every day when they go to work. The Pittsfield Police Department holds a ceremony every year during that week to remember those local officers who had their name inscribed on the national monument in Washington D.C.
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