The 19th Police Memorial hosted by Ferris State University’s Department of Public Safety took place Tuesday, May 10, on the Dewaine V. and Jana B. Robinson Quad. An audience of approximately 150 students, university community members and law enforcement officers recognizing 2022’s National Police Week attended the event. The collaborative effort follows the proclamation by President John Kennedy in 1962 to honor the country’s law enforcement community in mid-May.
Mecosta County Prosecutor Amy Clapp was the master of ceremonies for the event, which featured a bagpipe-accompanied procession of the colors presented by an honor guard, along with presentations by Big Rapids Police Chaplain Jeremy Wicks, Ferris Department of Public Safety Chief John Allen and Criminal Justice Associate Professor Mike Mendenhall. Ferris President David Eisler also spoke to the gathering, focusing on the responsibilities peace officers face in their profession.
“They are dedicated to uphold the charge to protect and to serve, knowing that they are putting their lives on the line, each day,” Eisler said. “Let us remember the vitally important work they do, having to make split-second decisions that have the potential to change the course of a life forever.”
The keynote speaker at the Police Memorial was Mecosta County Sheriff Brian Miller, a 1994 graduate of Ferris’ School of Criminal Justice.
“Peacemaking requires taking the initiative to get involved in matters of conflict, so that a bridge of understanding can be built,” Miller said. “This is the only career I ever wished to have, because I wanted to be in a position to make a difference.”
Miller acknowledged the difficulties law enforcement professionals face in completing their duties.
“We want to do our jobs in the most ethical way possible, but we do make mistakes,” Miller said. “Through continual training, we hope that our mistakes will be minimal in their impact.”
The sheriff left the audience with thoughts about the future of hsi field and a call for each person in attendance to strive for excellence.
“Never have we in law enforcement been more diverse in our composition, training at the level to heighten our abilities to do this job,” Miller said. “Challenging times are where you see the true fortitude in people. We are a family, bound in life by the ‘blue line.’ To all of you, may you aspire to make a difference in your work and life, not just a living.”
Big Rapids Mayor Fred Guenther attended the event and described himself as a “huge supporter of the police.”
“All aspects of our governments, life and society benefit from their work and service,” Guenther said. “That these officers would risk their lives daily in the interest of our safety is amazing to me. I have such great respect for the Ferris students who pursue degrees, or attend the Law Enforcement Academy. That also goes for all those officers at the local, county and state level. Anything I can do to support them in this cause, I will do.”