MILWAUKEE — A day of remembrance. That was the goal for Milwaukee law enforcement and county officials who spent their afternoon remembering those whose end of watch came too soon.
"It's important for us to remember the fallen heroes," said Mayor Tom Barrett.
Gone but never forgotten. That was the message of this years' Greater Milwaukee Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony where police officers, officials, family members, and others gathered to remember the brave men and women who were killed in the line of duty.
"They gave up their lives so that we could be safer in this community," said Barrett.
One by one city, county and state leaders took the moment to highlight the courage of those who lost their lives protecting their community. From Matthew Rittner, an MPD officer who was shot and killed serving a search warrant in 2019, to Officer Wendolyn Tanner, who was shot and killed in a foot chase in 1996.
"I was in the Academy when Officer Tanner was killed in the line of duty, I was only about a month and a half into it. If we don't remember them, then it's a forgotten family," said Dale Bormann, president of the Milwaukee Police Association.
According to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, in 2020, 264 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty across the country - a 96% increase from the 135 officers killed in 2019. Taking a closer look at Wisconsin, out of those 264 officers, only one died in 2020, compared to the three officers who were killed in 2019.
"I hope we don't lose another officer, that's our goal, that's our wish each and every year," said Bormann.
Officials say this past year has also been tough on current officers dealing with the pandemic.
"During 14 months now, where many of us are able to stay home, our law enforcement and first responders, they've never stopped working," said Barrett.
To learn more about the officers killed in the line of duty in Milwaukee and across the state of Wisconsin, click here.