As part of National Police Week, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office will hold a memorial service to commemorate fallen officers in the Four-State Area and across the country.
The service will be at 6 p.m. Friday, May 11, at the Civic Center in Neosho. It is sponsored by the chaplains of the sheriff’s department. Refreshments will be served. Newton County Sheriff Chris Jennings and Neosho police Chief David Kennedy will address the audience. The guest speaker will be state Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho.
“It’s a good time for law enforcement to get together with the public to pay their respect for the officers that have given their life in the line of duty,” Jennings said.
Bill Doubek, chaplain for the Newton County Sheriff’s Office and a Neosho City Council member, said the service is a time for everyone to gather and remember fallen officers and their families.
“We just honor their memory and remind people of what the cost of serving truly is,” he said.
May has been identified as a month to pay tribute to fallen officers and their survivors in Missouri as well as across the nation. It includes National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day. Each May, Missouri honors the state’s fallen heroes with a candlelight vigil at the Law Enforcement Memorial Service. State officials light the Capitol dome with blue lights.
“There are families across Missouri who have lost fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in the line of duty — defending us as law enforcement officers,” Gov. Eric Greitens said in a statement. “It is up to all of us to ensure that their sacrifice is remembered, and that their spirit of service lives on.”
Two officers died in the line of duty in 2017 and three have died so far this year, according to records from the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Those who died in 2017 will be added to the Law Enforcement Memorial Wall of Heroes, while those who have died this year will be added in 2019. The names of two other officers who died in the line of duty in the past will also be added to the wall this year.
Officers to be recognized are:
• Master Sgt. Carl T. Cosper Jr., 56, who was killed on April 7, 2017, in a vehicle collision as he responded to a domestic violence call in Seligman. He began his career in law enforcement in 1994 with the McDonald County Sheriff’s Department. He went on to serve with the Barry County Sheriff’s Department for 10 years.
• Officer Gary L. Michael, 37, was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Aug. 6, 2017. He was a U.S. Army veteran and had served with the Clinton Police Department for less than a year.
• Officer Christopher Morton, 30, was fatally shot by a gunman on March 6 when he and two other officers responded to a domestic disturbance call. Morton had served as both a reserve officer and full-time officer with the Clinton Police Department for three years. He was also a veteran of the Army National Guard.
• Special Agent Melissa S. Morrow, 48, died on March 22 from brain cancer that she developed following search-and-recovery efforts at the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks. Morrow had served with the FBI for 22 years and was assigned to the Kansas City field office at the time of her death.
• Deputy Sheriff Casey L. Shoemate, 26, was killed in a head-on collision as he responded to a 911 call on April 20. Shoemate had served with the Miller County Sheriff’s Office for one year.
This year’s candlelight vigil was to be held at 8 p.m. today at the Law Enforcement Memorial Wall on the Capitol grounds. The annual memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Carnahan Memorial Garden, 101 Jefferson St., in Jefferson City.
By Ines Kagubare | Joplin Globe