HELENA — In Helena, law enforcement officers took part in a 24-hour vigil Friday, in honor of National Peace Officers Memorial Day.
Starting at midnight, officers took turns standing at the law enforcement memorial at the Montana State Capitol. The Helena Police Department, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol and the Montana Department of Justice all took part.
“Today, we stand guard over this memorial, in remembrance for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice,” said Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton. “We appreciate the community who supports us, and we also want to say thanks to the surviving families and friends that have had officers die in the line of duty.”
Congress established May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day in 1962. Gov. Steve Bullock ordered flags around the state to fly at half-staff to honor those killed in the line of duty.
A statewide memorial event was set to be held in Bozeman Friday, but leaders held an online ceremony instead because of the COVID-19 emergency. Among the officers memorialized this year was Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jake Allmendinger, who was killed in an accident last October while responding to help a stranded driver.
Dutton said law enforcement in Lewis and Clark County decided to hold a vigil locally since they weren’t able to take part in the state ceremony. He asked people to take time to think about the sacrifice these officers and their families have made.
“Give thanks, much like we do on Memorial Day for the veterans who have died for our country,” he said. “These are peace officers who have died keeping you safe. Just take a moment to realize that we have people who work for you that keep us safe each and every day.”