CLEWISTON — After all the “Whereas” clauses were read, it came down to gratitude, which prompted a couple of rounds of appreciative applause as the Clewiston City Commission declared May 13-19 as National Police Week and called on citizens to show appreciation for officers’ work.
Mayor Mali Gardner read a proclamation noting that President John F. Kennedy first “proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week,” and that the observance was “established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962. National Police Week is a collaborative effort of many organizations dedicated honoring America’s law enforcement community.”
The proclamation said “it is important that all citizens know and understand the duties, responsibilities, hazards and sacrifices of their law enforcement agency and that members of our law enforcement agency recognize their duty to serve the people by safeguarding life and property, by protecting them against violence and disorder and by protecting the innocent against deception and the weak against repression.”
It concluded: “Whereas the men and women of the Clewiston Police Department provide a vital public service to our community, therefore we the mayor and city commission of Clewiston call upon all citizens to observe the week as National Police Week and to observe May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day in honor of those law enforcement officers who, through their courageous deeds, have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their community or have become disabled in the performance of their duty, and let us recognize and pay respect to the survivors of our fallen heroes.”
Mayor Gardner added, “We’re so very proud of the Clewiston Police Department and the men and women who represent our department.”As Police Chief Aaron Angell and his officers gathered in front of the podium for the obligatory photographs, Commissioner Kristine Petersen noted, “Two high school graduates came through the criminal justice program, and we’re very proud of them.”
At the end of the ceremony, she asked Chief Angell whether he was sending a contingent of officers to Highlands County for the upcoming funeral of Sheriff’s Deputy William Gentry, who was shot in the head while responding to a neighborhood dispute Sunday night in Lake Placid and later died of his injuries. “Please bring to them the condolences of the City of Clewiston,” Commissioner Petersen said, “and if there is anything that they need, please know that we back you in providing any services.” Mayor Gardner added her sympathy, and thanked Chief Angell when he said he’d make sure Clewiston was represented.
A memorial vigil for Deputy Gentry and his surviving family was planned for Tuesday night, May 8, at Devane Park on Interlake Boulevard in Lake Placid.