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Slain officers honored

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2004

The annual Police Memorial Ceremony in Soldotna took on a special meaning this year as Kenai Peninsula law enforcement officers paid tribute to Kenai Police Officer John Watson, who was killed in the line of duty last Christmas.

About 100 people, including 26 uniformed police and state troopers, gathered in front of the Soldotna police station Wed-nesday as officials from throughout the peninsula read proclamations declaring May 9 to 15 Police Week, and officers placed roses at the base of a flag pole while police chiefs read the names of 42 officers who have died while serving in Alaska since statehood.

"The death of Officer Watson is a reminder that peace is fragile," said Kenai Police Chief Chuck Kopp, who was among six top law enforcement officers from around the peninsula participating in the observance.

"This community is grateful for the service of all the officers here," Kopp said. "Sometimes the odds are too great, and we fall."

Soldotna Police Chief John Lucking Jr., who presided over the ceremony, said his department continues to grieve with members of the Kenai department and with Kathy Watson, John Watson's widow.

As a living memorial to Officer Watson, Lucking dedicated a flowering May tree planted in front of the Soldotna police station and marked with a brass plaque honoring the slain police officer.

Kathy Watson was accompanied by Kenai Police Sgt. Scott McBride to Washington, D.C., this week for National Police Week ceremonies there attended by U.S. Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski.

During remarks on the Senate floor, Stevens said, "Mr. President, I was deeply saddened last Christmas evening to learn that Alaska had lost a true hero.

"An 18-year veteran of the police force, Officer John Watson, was the Kenai Police Department's longest-serving officer.

"He was a dedicated public servant, taken from us in the line of duty and he'll be missed by his family, friends and the community he served," Stevens said.

He extended his sympathy to Kathy Watson and daughter, Chelaine, who were in the Senate gallery. Also attending the Washington observance were Kenai Mayor John Williams and Vice Mayor Jim Bookey.

Officer Watson was shot and killed Christmas night after responding to a request for a welfare check in the Kenai VIP Subdivision.

David Forster of Kenai is awaiting trial at Wildwood Pretrial Facility, charged with murdering Watson and with two counts of third-degree assault and two counts of domestic-violence related third-degree assault. The trial is scheduled to begin in the first week of November.

During the Soldotna memorial ceremony, Seward Police Chief Tom Clemons told the gathering that National Police Memorial Day was created in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy as one of his last official acts before he was assassinated.

"An officer killed investigating the president's death was among the first honored at Police Memorial Day," Cle-mons said.

Alaska State Trooper Capt. Tom Bowman, commander of the "E" Detachment in Soldotna, read a proclamation from Gov. Frank Murkowski declaring May 16 to 22 as Law Enforcement Week in Alaska.

Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey declared May 9 to 15 Police Week in Soldotna and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley declared May 15 as Kenai Peninsula Police Officers Memorial Day.

"Crime is the most prevalent form of terrorism in Alaska," said Carey.

After the proclamations were read, Lucking announced the "Final Call" for the 42 officers who died while serving Alaska and he, Homer Chief Mark Robl, Clemons, Department of Corrections Superintendent Garland Armstrong, Bowman and Kopp read the list of names as uniformed officers rendered salutes and placed roses at the base of the flagpole.

Watson's was the last name read.

The roll call was followed by Steve Adams playing "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes and a rifle salute by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Soldotna Post 10046 Honor Guard.

Tony Cloud, pastor of Soldotna Church of Christ, offered a closing prayer.

"We thank you, God, for giving us these brave men and women who serve us.

"Bless all officers, be with them and protect them."

BYLINE1:By PHIL HERMANEK

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

The annual Police Memorial Ceremony in Soldotna took on a special meaning this year as Kenai Peninsula law enforcement officers paid tribute to Kenai Police Officer John Watson, who was killed in the line of duty last Christmas.

About 100 people, including 26 uniformed police and state troopers, gathered in front of the Soldotna police station Wed-nesday as officials from throughout the peninsula read proclamations declaring May 9 to 15 Police Week, and officers placed roses at the base of a flag pole while police chiefs read the names of 42 officers who have died while serving in Alaska since statehood.

"The death of Officer Watson is a reminder that peace is fragile," said Kenai Police Chief Chuck Kopp, who was among six top law enforcement officers from around the peninsula participating in the observance.

"This community is grateful for the service of all the officers here," Kopp said. "Sometimes the odds are too great, and we fall."

Soldotna Police Chief John Lucking Jr., who presided over the ceremony, said his department continues to grieve with members of the Kenai department and with Kathy Watson, John Watson's widow.

As a living memorial to Officer Watson, Lucking dedicated a flowering May tree planted in front of the Soldotna police station and marked with a brass plaque honoring the slain police officer.

Kathy Watson was accompanied by Kenai Police Sgt. Scott McBride to Washington, D.C., this week for National Police Week ceremonies there attended by U.S. Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski.

During remarks on the Senate floor, Stevens said, "Mr. President, I was deeply saddened last Christmas evening to learn that Alaska had lost a true hero.

"An 18-year veteran of the police force, Officer John Watson, was the Kenai Police Department's longest-serving officer.

"He was a dedicated public servant, taken from us in the line of duty and he'll be missed by his family, friends and the community he served," Stevens said.

He extended his sympathy to Kathy Watson and daughter, Chelaine, who were in the Senate gallery. Also attending the Washington observance were Kenai Mayor John Williams and Vice Mayor Jim Bookey.

Officer Watson was shot and killed Christmas night after responding to a request for a welfare check in the Kenai VIP Subdivision.

David Forster of Kenai is awaiting trial at Wildwood Pretrial Facility, charged with murdering Watson and with two counts of third-degree assault and two counts of domestic-violence related third-degree assault. The trial is scheduled to begin in the first week of November.

During the Soldotna memorial ceremony, Seward Police Chief Tom Clemons told the gathering that National Police Memorial Day was created in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy as one of his last official acts before he was assassinated.

"An officer killed investigating the president's death was among the first honored at Police Memorial Day," Cle-mons said.

Alaska State Trooper Capt. Tom Bowman, commander of the "E" Detachment in Soldotna, read a proclamation from Gov. Frank Murkowski declaring May 16 to 22 as Law Enforcement Week in Alaska.

Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey declared May 9 to 15 Police Week in Soldotna and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley declared May 15 as Kenai Peninsula Police Officers Memorial Day.

"Crime is the most prevalent form of terrorism in Alaska," said Carey.

After the proclamations were read, Lucking announced the "Final Call" for the 42 officers who died while serving Alaska and he, Homer Chief Mark Robl, Clemons, Department of Corrections Superintendent Garland Armstrong, Bowman and Kopp read the list of names as uniformed officers rendered salutes and placed roses at the base of the flagpole.

Watson's was the last name read.

The roll call was followed by Steve Adams playing "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes and a rifle salute by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Soldotna Post 10046 Honor Guard.

Tony Cloud, pastor of Soldotna Church of Christ, offered a closing prayer.

"We thank you, God, for giving us these brave men and women who serve us.

"Bless all officers, be with them and protect them."



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