Special to the Kansas Reflector
Candlelight vigil at Statehouse honors Kansas officers killed in the line of duty
Sgt. Fabiola Torres comforts Annette Hardaway, the mother of Sidnee Carter. Carter was killed in the line of duty in October 2022 when a motorist failed to yield to a stop sign and struck Carter’s patrol car. She was 22 years old. (Chloe Anderson for Kansas Reflector)
By Chloe Anderson for the Kansas Reflector
TOPEKA — Community members and law enforcement officers gathered at the Statehouse on Thursday evening to commemorate bonds that one speaker described “as strong as family.”
Dozens attended the Law Enforcement Memorial Candlelight Vigil, an annual event held in honor of National Police Week and National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. The vigil began in the first floor rotunda area before moving to the Law Enforcement Monument on the northeast quadrant of the grounds.
The monument, which honors the legacy of officers killed in the line of duty, is updated annually.
Topeka Police Officers line the first floor rotunda area of the Statehouse on Thursday at a tribute for law enforcement. (Chloe Anderson for Kansas Reflector)
“Law enforcement is not just a job or career, it’s calling,” said Topeka Police officer Ben Heusted. “In answering that call, there comes a bond — a bond as strong as family. … Every man and woman that pins on the badge are our brothers and sisters. So tonight is a gathering of family: ; a time to come together to support each other and be there for one another.”
Audience members shed tears as various officers gave speeches, performed songs and led prayers. Outside, friends and family of those lost in the line of duty placed flowers and blue candles on the Law Enforcement Monument. The memorial already contains close to 300 names, and it recently received four more.
Twenty two-year-old Deputy Sidnee Taylor Carter served in the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office for more than a year before she was killed in October 2022. While responding to a disturbance call, her patrol car was struck by a motorist who failed to yield at a stop sign. Carter is survived by her mother, stepfather, father, two sisters and two brothers.
Captain Clay Morsell Germany and Officer David Leroy Ingle both died due to complications from COVID-19. Germany, who was 58 at the time of his death, worked for the Wichita Police Department for 26 years. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 in October 2020 and battled respiratory failure until his death in July 2021. Germany is survived by his wife, six daughters and one son.
Ingle, 52, served the city of Iola for nine years. He contracted COVID-19 while performing daily duties and tested positive Dec. 30, 2022. Just five days after being diagnosed, Ingle passed away. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and two sons.
“As I look around, I see many family members, wives, husbands, parents, siblings, fathers, as well as so many colleagues and friends of the heroes that we’ve tragically and senselessly lost over the years,” said Tony Mattivi, director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. “We wish you comfort in experiencing the honor this week brings—in seeing your loved ones’ names forever inscribed in a law enforcement memorial.” (Chloe Anderson for Kansas Reflector)
The final name comes from further back in history. Deputy James Lucero began his position as deputy sheriff with the Ford County Sheriff’s Office on October 19, 1921, at the age of 49. He also worked as a special officer with the Santa Fe Railway.
According to an article from the Dodge City Daily Globe, an intoxicated man became violent while Lucero was escorting him home Jan. 2, 1922. He shot Lucero, who died a day later. Little is known about Lucero’s lineage, but he had three young children at the time of his death.
The Thursday evening vigil was sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary, Topeka #3.
Kansas Bureau of Investigation director Tony Mattivi told the group about the importance of remembering their loved ones’ accomplishments and dedication to duty.
“I can tell you with certainty, as we stand gathered here side by side, we will not forget the sacrifice that your loved one made,” Mattivi said. “We will live with each of their names tonight and tomorrow, and in our hearts each day.”
Blue candles surround Carter’s name on the memorial. (Chloe Anderson for Kansas Reflector)
This article was used by permission from the Kansas Reflector. The Kansas Reflector is a non-profit online news organization serving Kansas. For more information on the organization, go to its website at www.kansasreflector.com.