Police Department dedicates memorial

Published 3:52 am Thursday, October 8, 2009

A large crowd gathered outside the Picayune Police Department at mid-morning on Wednesday waiting to witness the unveiling of the department’s police officer memorial.

The crowd was large and the temperatures were sweltering. Lisa Albritton and Sherri Lawley provided music as the Mississippi Highway Patrol Honor Guard performed “Taps” and a 21-gun salute.

To begin the ceremony, Jessica Langham played the bagpipes and later played a rendition of “Amazing Grace” just before the 21-gun salute. Several speakers came to the podium to express the importance of all kinds of law enforcement officers.

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Mayor Ed Pinero Jr. said that police officers and firefighters dedicate their time and skills to the community on a 24 hour. seven days a week basis.

“Don’t you think for a moment that we don’t appreciate you,” Pinero said.

Chief Jim Luke shared a few words at the event concerning his appreciation for all those who had dedicated their time or services in helping the memorial become a reality. He said in all his of 30 years of law enforcement service, the dedication of the memorial in front of the Criminal Justice Center stood out.

“I can tell you without a doubt that this is one of my proudest moments,” Luke said.

To build the memorial, the department had to remove a maple tree that was planted at the site in 1978. Since Luke knew that former police chief Brenda Smith was partial to the tree, he presented her with an engraved branch from that very tree.

Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson also shared some thoughts with those in attendance. He reminded everyone that the memorial will serve as a way to honor officers who have lost their lives while providing the community with law enforcement services. He said that law enforcement personnel, as well as any emergency responder, are educated and distinguished people who work to make life better for their communities.

“They run to danger when most reasonable people would run away from it,” Simpson said. “Quite frankly, my day-to-day duties don’t put me at risk for my life, but theirs do.”