As this year's annual Southeast Missouri Law Enforcement Officers Memorial approaches, the list of local officers recognized as slain in the line of duty through the years continues to expand.
Until recently, the ceremony was to recognize 21 fallen members of law enforcement in Southeast Missouri, a region delineated by the area covered by Troop E of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, as well as Perry County law enforcement.
While doing online research on some of the officers, however, assistant chief Roger Fields of the Cape Girardeau Police Department discovered an additional 24 officers who will be added to a new monument being crafted as a memorial.
All 45 officers will be honored during the ceremony at 10 a.m. May 15 at the Missouri Conservation Campus Auditorium at Cape County Park North.
Seniors And Lawmen Together is now trying to contact family members of the officers who have been added to the list and researching the lives of these officers for their planned Memorial Book, Fields said.
Fields was inspired to begin promoting a memorial tribute to fallen officers because of Timothy Ruopp, originally of Southeast Missouri, who was shot and fatally wounded as a patrol officer with the San Diego Police Department.
Fields, who is related to Ruopp, recently attended the funeral of Imelda Ruopp, mother of the fallen officer.
It was Imelda Ruopp's grief for her son that sparked Fields' interest in the memorial, he said, noting that she would have turned 85 on May 15, the same day as the ceremony this year.
"Today, I know that Imelda is embraced with Tim; no more tears, no more heartache," Fields wrote in a SALT newsletter.
Of the 45 area officers killed in the line of duty, 71 percent died by gunfire, Fields said.
The new monument was scheduled to be finished by May 15 so it could be unveiled for the ceremony, but the stone ordered for it has not yet been delivered from overseas, Fields said.
The space for names to be engraved into the stone may need to be expanded to include the officers recently added to the list, Fields said.
Any family members of the fallen officers are asked to contact Fields at 335-6621.
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