Local law enforcement leaders gathered May 15 for a memorial service.
By JACK TOMCZUK, The Sun
Members of the Burlington County law enforcement community gathered May 15 to honor the 15 county police officers who have died in the line of duty.
The annual Fallen Officers Memorial Service took place at the Burlington County Emergency Services Training Center in Westampton. It was held to coincide with Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week.
“This memorial today signifies the courage, fidelity and the heroic final actions of officers that will never be forgotten,” said Erik Jarvis, chaplain for the Burlington County Police Chiefs’ Association.
More than 120 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in the United States in 2017, and more than 50 have died so far this year, according to statistics cited during the ceremony.
“We have all answered the call to serve our fellow man, knowing full well that each day we answer that call, it may be the last time,” said Riverside Police Chief William Eliason, who is president of the county police chiefs’ association.
State Police Trooper Sean E. Cullen, a Cinnaminson resident, was the last Burlington County officer to die while on duty. He was killed in 2016 after being struck by a vehicle on I-295 in Deptford Township.
He had previously worked as a police officer in Westampton, Mt. Holly and with the Burlington County Bridge Commission, according to information distributed at the service.
During the memorial services, the names of all 15 officers were read aloud before members of various law enforcement agencies placed wreaths in their honor.
“It is important that we never forget what they stood for, what each of them meant to their families, their friends and the Burlington County law enforcement community,” Eliason said.
Special Agent Brian A. Michael, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations in New Jersey, was the event’s keynote speaker. He spoke about how federal agents work hand-in-hand with local police departments to combat crime.
“Together, we confront the ongoing opioid crisis, target transnational gang members, keep our children safe from child predators and preserve our freedoms and rule of law,” Michael said.
He also recounted a story of how his agents in New Jersey uncovered an individual living in France who was trying to buy weapons online from the United States and smuggle them into France.
Michael said his team alerted authorities in France, who planned to raid the suspect’s house. During the operation, Pascal Robinson, a French customs officer, was shot and killed by the suspect and two other officers were injured, Michael said.
“It was a reminder that law enforcement, whether in Burlington County or France, faces the same dangers every day to promote public safety,” he said.