This past year the Milwaukee Police Department lost three officers in the span of eight months. Sunday night, a local organization honored them for their service in a ceremony at Mount Zion Assembly Church.
The Milwaukee Teamster's chapter gave out awards of servanthood to three fallen officers killed in the line of duty: Officer Charles Irvine Jr., Officer Michael Michalski and Officer Matthew Rittner. Their captains accepted the honors on their behalf.
Captain Heather Wurth was Irvine's superior.
"I'm humbled and honored to be here to today to accept this award for Officer Irvine," Wurth said.
Captain Paul Lough was there for Michalski.
"Mike would want us to go on doing hard work and that's what we're going to continue to do in Special Domestic Investigations Division," Lough said.
Then, Captain Derrick Harris attended for Rittner.
"We have to take what he did and how he did it and try to live like that," said Harris. "He faced everything with a smile."
Service happening at Mount Zion Assembly Church that will honor fallen @MilwaukeePolice Officers Charles Irvine Jr., Michael Michalski and Matthew Rittner. @tmj4 pic.twitter.com/hjRdwih9T5— Lauren Linder (@lauren_linder) June 9, 2019
The awards came with a special congressional recognition from Rep. Gwen Moore.
"Every year we'll seek out the police department, the fire department, someone to honor, so it was the Assistant Chief that said, 'Hey, those fallen officers,' and that did it," Ricky Price Sr. of Mount Zion said.
Their deaths, over the span of eight months, marked the first officers the city lost in 22 years, and it took a toll on their colleagues.
"There are times when it comes rushing back and it's very, very painful," Lt. Kristin Felsman said. She worked with Rittner.
Mayor Tom Barrett said ceremonies like these show support for our law enforcement, and that kind of appreciation is what needs to continue.
"We have to respect the police officers but I also know there are tensions in the community and we need to have our police officers respect our residents as well," Mayor Barrett said.
They hope to prevent this from happening again.
"I think that's really important to take the message back to our officers and know that they are supported and know that they're loved and know that their work has meaning," Wurth said.