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Eastern Carolina city remembers fallen police officers

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 6:53 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The City of Jacksonville held a special Peace Officers Memorial ceremony on Friday.

National Peace Officers Memorial Day is on May 15th.

The day was created back in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy as a way to pay special recognition to law enforcement who lost their lives in the line of duty and in the protection of others.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report shows 458 officers died in 2021. Some died in the line of duty, others due to COVID-19.

Jacksonville city officials and Onslow County officials reflected on their time serving as police officers in Jacksonville, as well as some of the counterparts they lost on the job.

“You know, Terry Lanier. May 11th, 1979. Bill Whitehead. May 31st, 1981. These are dates that I’ll never forget because there was such a traumatic, I mean to me, as well as the people I served with,” Jacksonville Mayor Sammy Phillips said.

The two names Phillips shared rest at the Public Safety Remembrance Garden in Jacksonville.

During the ceremony, the Onslow County district attorney said 105 officers died in the line of duty in 2022, a jarring statistic that caused former police officer and now Onslow County Commissioner Paul Buchanan to reflect on the lost officers he once served beside.

“I was one of the second officers that Terry Lanier, when he had been stabbed, and Bill Whitehead... I was one of the divers and retrieved Bill Whitehead’s body from the New River,” Buchanan said.

During the special ceremony, Mayor Phillips proclaimed May 13th, 2022 as Police Officers Memorial Day in Jacksonville.

The National Law Enforcement Fatality Report shows that line-of-duty deaths increased by 55% in 2021.

The report shows 62 officers died on duty from firearms, a 38% increase from 2020.

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