KENTUCKY (KFVS) - When Covington Police Detective Anthony Jansen became old enough to enter the field of law enforcement, he said he thought often about what it would have been like for his father to witness him following in his footsteps.
"After graduating the academy, the first thing I did was go to the cemetery," Jansen told a crowd on Monday, May 23 during the 17th annual Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony.
"I stood before my father's headstone in my class A uniform – something I felt I needed to do, because my mother always said my father took pride in his uniform. I wanted him to be proud of me," Jansen said. "Throughout my life as I carry out my duties with the Covington Police Department, one thing is for certain that I think daily about my father."
Jansen's father, Newport Police Officer Anthony E. Jansen, Sr., was killed in the line of duty on Dec. 30, 1984. Jansen was just six months old when his father died.
Monday's ceremony honored nine surviving families like Jansen's, whose loved ones' names were added to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation monument. Jansen was joined by keynote speaker Gov. Matt Bevin and Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley, who also addressed surviving families and guests.
Four officers killed in the commonwealth during 2015 were honored including
- Burke Rhoads, Nicholasville Police Department, died March 11, 2015
- Eric Chrisman, Kentucky State Police, died June 23, 2015
- Cameron Ponder, Kentucky State Police, died Sept. 23, 2015
- Daniel Ellis, Richmond Police Department, died Nov. 6, 2015
Additionally, five officers who previously were killed in the line of duty, but whose names had not yet been added to the monument, were honored. Those include:
- George W. James, Georgetown Police Department, died Oct. 22, 1893
- John R. Russell, Harrodsburg Police Department, died April 25, 1896
- Rory J. Draughn, Hazard Police Department, died Dec. 18, 1913
- Alford Holland, Hazard Police Department, died Dec. 6, 1922
- Anson B. Tribby, Kentucky State Police, died Jan. 22, 2013
The memory of those lost in the line of duty is a sentiment shared by newly-appointed Department of Criminal Justice Training Commissioner Mark Filburn. During his law enforcement service, Filburn said he witnessed the loss of two of his fellow officers in the line of duty.
"I want you to know as family members that there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of your family members, the sacrifices you've made by giving members of your family to protect each and every one of us," Filburn said. "We think about you every day, we pray for you, and it is truly humbling to sit here today to honor you as well as your fallen heroes."
Gov. Matt Bevin said he hopes these names will continue to be remembered. As a father who lost his 17-year-old daughter in an automobile crash, Bevin said he will never forget the names of the officers who spoke to his family that tragic day.
"In a tiny way, I have some appreciation for what some of you who are being honored have experienced, yet I can't even begin to walk in your shoes," Bevin said. "Your sacrifices will not be forgotten by me. I am grateful to you, and as the governor of this state, I want you to know I will have your back. It is something I pledged as I was running, and something I hope you have seen some indication of even in these first five months. Expect to see more of it. We owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude."
The Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial monument recognizes nearly all Kentucky peace officers who have been killed in the line of duty. This year's additions bring the total number of names on the monument to 534.
"It is times like these that remind us all of the things we could have said – the things we should have said – to those who protect us who are no longer with us," Tilley said. "In the absence of that, we gather on days like today and honor the memory of those who have gone on before us."
The foundation was established in 1999 to build the unique memorial. Once the monument was completed in 2000, the organization expanded its efforts to include an ongoing financial endowment program, which helps Kentucky peace officers and their families with educational, medical and emergency needs.