NORWALK, Conn. – Guns were fired at Norwalk Police headquarters Friday, but only in honor of those who have given their all for the city.
The annual Police Memorial Service paid homage to four Norwalk officers who died in the line of duty and to those across the country who have done the same. Officers and members of Norwalk's community gathered in front of headquarters around a statue known as "The Protector," listening as Detective Kristina Lapak sang "Amazing Grace," an honor guard fired three volleys and speakers tried to evoke the magnitude of the sacrifice made by fallen officers.
"It's very difficult to place a value on a person's life, especially a hero," said Chief Harry Rilling. "How do we properly pay tribute to those who have given their lives in service to their communities?"
Stamford Police officer Troy Strauser, who is in critical condition at Norwalk Hospital after being injured in the line of duty Thursday, was on many minds.
"When others would run for safety, police officers run toward the danger," said Sgt. Thomas Roncinske, president of the Norwalk Police Union. "They risk everything without a second thought for their personal safety. Such is the case of Stamford Officer Troy Strauser."
"Without the men and women in blue being there and doing their jobs, we all know what type of chaos we would have in this community," said Mayor Richard Moccia, who went on to note there were many people in the audience who have served in the military. "There are no battle lines in this city," he added. "There are no demarcation zones or non-military zones. Every day, when [officers] get into that patrol car, they do not know what is going to happen. Evidence of that is the unfortunate incident with the officer from Stamford. We hope and pray that he will recover and be back on duty and be healthy and stay safe for the rest of his career."
Rilling said the moment was additionally emotional for him as it was the last time he would preside over the event. Rilling retires in December. He used elements from previous memorial speeches to illustrate the protective attitude police officers have, including those who rushed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. He said, "Remember the officers who are willing to lay down their lives for you at any moment."