Newtown PD Honors Fallen Officers For Ultimate Sacrifice
Newtown Police Department hosted a private memorial service on May 15, honoring fallen police officers on Peace Officers Memorial Day. Family members of officers were among those in attendance, including many young children dressed in their Sunday best and holding stuffed animals.
Guests gathered outside the police headquarters, at 191 South Main Street, where rows of American flags had been staked in the ground to symbolize each life lost. Newtown Chief of Police David Kullgren explained during his remarks that the flags represented the 472 law enforcement officers who lost their lives in 2021.
The event began with Newtown PD Motorcycle Unit Officers Timothy Schoen and Leonard Penna riding into the parking lot ahead of a procession.
Following them was Greg McCallum and Syd White, of the Police Pipes & Drums of Waterbury. They performed while Newtown police officers walked single file behind them. At the front of the line was Chief of Police David Kullgren holding a folded American flag.
Kullgren made his way to the flagpole in front of the buildling with his fellow officers, who then raised the flag as Detective Chelsea Harold sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."
He then went to the podium where he thanked everyone for coming.
“I am humbled by the attendance of everyone here today. It warms the heart that you have taken time out of your lives to gather and pay respect to the fallen from near and far,” the police chief said. The memorial of flags, he said, “is dedicated to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. It reminds us not how they died, but rather how they lived.”
He pointed out that two of the flags honored local heroes: Connecticut State Trooper Sergeant Brian Erik Mohl, who died on September 2, 2021; and Connecticut State Trooper First Class Eugene Kenneth Baron, Jr, end of watch May 25, 2020.
Kullgren added that a flag also memorialized Newtown Police Officer Stephen A. Ketchum, end of watch March 15, 2016.
He proceeded to then read the patriotic poem, “A Hero’s Welcome,” by Robert Longley. It began, “Time to come home dear brother / Your tour of duty through / You’ve given as much as anyone / Could be expected to do.”
It concluded, “So take your place of honor / Among those who have gone before / And know you will be remembered / For now and evermore.”
A respectful moment of silence followed before Kullgren read the Police Officer’s Prayer. The heartfelt prayer asked the Lord to give all law enforcement personnel courage, strength, dedication, protection, and compassion.
Kullgren was joined by Police Commission member Joan Plouffe for a ceremonial laying of a wreath.
The Honor Guard then did a three-volley salute and "Taps" was played.
Kullgren addressed the crowd once more, giving credit to Newtown PD Sergeant Douglas Wisentaner, who initiated the idea to have the law enforcement memorial and organized the event.
“All this today is through the efforts of Sergeant Douglas Wisentaner. Everyone else who helped him, I appreciate it,” he said.
Wisentaner approached the podium to say a few words, as well. He expressed his appreciation for the many people involved in making the event happen. The list included, but was not limited to, Kullgren, Newtown Police Commission, Honor Guard, Drone Unit, and department officers.
He mentioned that the American flags that the officers put out will remain there until after Memorial Day.
“To all the officers that are here today, let this be an annual thing. Carry it on every year. Never forget,” Wisentaner said.
He also thanked Newtown Florist for providing the flowers and Swenson Granite Works in Newtown who made the monument marker for Officer Ketchum. It was not on site May 15 but is scheduled for installation within the week.
Concluding the ceremony, Wisentaner invited everyone in attendance to walk up and receive a white carnation to place before the wreath.
He encouraged everyone to join them afterwards at NewSylum Brewing Company, “spend time with our family and friends.”
Then one by one, the guests of all ages accepted a white carnation to pay their respects for the fallen officers.
Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.