Police ceremony honors fallen

Saturday, May 13, 2006

In a crowded, near-silent room, one voice over a police radio called out the names of 17 fallen heroes.

At the 11th annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service, the names of the officers from Southeast Missouri who have died in the line of duty were read one by one.

During the reading, uniformed officers from various police agencies delivered white roses to the front of the room. Five roses were delivered to family members of deceased officers, many of whom clutched tissues and dabbed teary eyes throughout the ceremony.

"This is the hardest thing I do, but the most satisfying," Kathleen Riggs-Ruopp, of Jackson, said of the ceremony.

This was the second year she has come to the annual event. Her husband, Timothy J. Ruopp, was an assistant jail administrator for Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department before moving to San Diego and becoming a police officer there.

Two years later, in 1984, he was shot and killed.

Riggs-Ruopp called the ceremony important, especially for family members of the deceased.

"That's vital to us, to know they are not forgotten and know what they did was not in vain," said Riggs-Ruopp, who also lost a brother in the line of duty.

About 100 people, both civilians and officers, attended the event in Cape Girardeau County Park North, which was sponsored by the group Seniors and Lawmen Together.

The officers remembered included those as far back as Jimmy Carr of the Scott County Sheriff's Department, who was killed Jan. 15, 1875, and as recent as John "Jay" Sampietro Jr. of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, killed Aug. 17.

After calling all the names of the fallen officers, the radio voice closed the transmission with the police code for ending one's tour of duty: "10-42, final call complete."

On Monday as part of National Police Week, the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department will hold the annual presentation of the Timothy J. Ruopp Award and Copeland Excellence Awards at the Cape Girardeau County Justice Center. The event will award select sheriff's employees for their work in 2005.

kmorrison@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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