Notes on delivery:
Distinguished members of our law enforcement community, honored guests, friends and, most importantly, our surviving family members:
Hello. My name is Cole Finegan. I’m the United States Attorney for the District of Colorado.
It is an honor today to be here with each of you to commemorate all Colorado law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty, dating back 160 years to 1862 We are also here to recognize the 17 officers whose names today will be added to this Memorial. With their addition, we will now have 342 names listed forever. We have surviving families with us today, from Pueblo to Grand Junction, Windsor to Antonito, and beyond.
Martin Luther King once said, “The most persistent and pressing question in life is what do you do for others?
As we gather today, we are in no doubt that those we honor have done all they can for their fellow citizens. When these men and women – husbands, wives, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers – put on their uniforms and left, there was no guarantee that they would return home safe and sound. They do not have. There are no guarantees today. And while most run away from danger, from the gunfire, from the violence, there are those among us who run towards danger, knowing only too well that they really are headed for danger. I marvel at this. Frankly, I don’t know how these brave officers do this, how they find the courage and the will to run into danger. But we are all grateful that they do. We owe them our gratitude and our respect. And, for their ultimate sacrifice, we owe them the legacy we commemorate and mark here.
Today I want to talk about these heroes and also about the men and women, families and friends, that these heroes leave behind when they make the ultimate sacrifice: when they die in the line of duty. When I say heroes, I’m not talking about the athletes or celebrities we idolize, or even the wonderful comic book characters our kids (and some of us adults love): Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman.
No, I’m talking about those brave officers who entered public service, put it all on the line and made the ultimate sacrifice. And I’m talking about those who keep putting it all on the line: many of you are sitting here today.
A few miles away, we saw firsthand the heroic actions of two such people last year.
On March 22, 2021, Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley pulled over to help a woman change a tire. Moments later, he received a call. An active shooter at King Soopers on Table Mesa Road. It was necessary.
Officer Talley arrived, assessed the situation, and ran towards the shots. He was the first officer on the scene. As I said before, there are people so brave that they run into danger.
In the blink of an eye, Officer Talley was killed by the gunman who killed 9 other innocent people that day. But from the time Officer Talley entered the store and confronted the suspect, no other innocent civilians were harmed. Officer Talley’s supervisor said, “Eric died a hero, giving his all to save others. He did not die in vain. He responded to a cry for help in which he knew people were dying. He saved many lives. »
Eric was a man of deep faith, a devout Catholic. At his funeral, a priest wisely observed that Eric’s life was not taken: Eric gave his life.
Eric was devoted to his family and his faith, and by all accounts he had a fearsome sense of humor. He was nice. He was brave. He will forever be missed by those who knew and loved him.
Three months after Eric’s murder, on June 21, 2021, Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley responded to a call about a suspicious incident near the Arvada Library. A gunman ambushed Constable Beesley, killing him in an instant. The shooter targeted Constable Beesley because he was a police officer, he was wearing a uniform and a badge. The shooter had expressed his hatred of the police and he acted on his hatred by murdering Constable Beesley.
Gordon Beesley was more than a police officer in his community. He was a school resource officer known for his compassionate approach with students. In 2015 he started cycling to school alongside a 7and grader with developmental delay. After learning that this boy was interested in bicycles, but that his mother didn’t want him to ride alone, Officer Beesley — Gordon — took the time before school to ride with him. the boy, to make a difference in his life.
Gordon, his wife and two sons have enjoyed living here. They loved the Colorado outdoors. They went hiking, biking, skiing, camping. Gordon loved to travel and learn. He played drums in a band. His motto was “Look for the good in every day”.
Gordon was the good on a daily basis. I hope he knew that.
The two officers of whom I have spoken were taken away in an instant. From their families. From their friends. of their communities.
Yet others have been lost over the past year in different, no less heartbreaking and damaging ways. Unfortunately, COVID was the leading cause of death among US law enforcement last year.
Here in Colorado, we’ve added 8 names to these signs for those killed by the coronavirus. We pay tribute to these officers who sacrificed their health, and ultimately their lives, while ensuring our safety.
The current pandemic prompted a Denver police sergeant to research the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. We now have 8 historic additions, including two Denver police officers, Frank Potestio and Peter Walsh, who died in response to the crisis of 1918.
Whether he was lost suddenly or gradually, recently or in 1918 in Denver or in 1908 in Antonito, the heaviness of mourning weighs on those closest to him who have remained. Remarkably, we have 30 members of Antonito’s family here today to honor the city marshal killed 114 years ago. They all came from the far south of our state to be here, to pay tribute and honor the sacrifice Marshal Rafael Peña made 114 years ago. His memory lives on. Just like our grief.
Grief is described in several ways: “Grief is the tax we pay for our attachment. Mourning is the last act of love. But no matter how it’s described, it’s real. It brings a heaviness that is physical, and there is no fixed time or day that it will leave. He may never completely leave.
I read that “Loss is a kind of eternal consciousness, urging us to make better use of our finite days.” And to quote Eric Talley’s wise priest once again, “What do we do with the days we have left??”
At the US Attorney’s Office, we know we have a lot of work to do in the days we have left. We are committed to working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners, many of whom are represented here, to do all we can to prosecute the violent criminals who make our communities more dangerous. We do this work because we want our citizens to be safe.
And on this special day, we deeply wish that the women and men in blue, who risk everything every day, know how much they mean and how much we depend on them.
In closing, let me reiterate that our debt is not only to those brave officers who died in our service, but also to the loved ones who remained. We owe you all our gratitude, our support and our respect, and you certainly have the full measure of this dedication.
The following words are inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington: “It was not the deaths of these officers that made them heroes. That’s how they lived. »
By all accounts, they lived well.
Link to the ceremony: https://fb.watch/cRdeJpbc-D/