By MIKE DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Writer
As part of National Law Enforcement Officers Day on Friday, police from throughout Vermont plan to participate in a public silent salute to those that have been killed in the line of duty.
At least 40 local, county, state and federal law enforcement officers from Vermont have died in the line of duty, according to the Vermont Police Association President Kevin Blongy, an officer with Rutland Police.
On Friday law enforcement officers will pause for one minute during the 11 a.m. hour, said Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel, president of the Vermont Police Chiefs Association.
Emergency dispatchers will send a message to officers to prepare for the moment of silence. Officers will pull over their police vehicles, or come out of their duty stations, activate the blue lights on their vehicles and salute for one minute.
Grand Isle County Sheriff Ray Allen and Franklin County Sheriff Roger Langevin, whose department has lost two deputies in the line of duty, said they officers will participate wherever they are at the time.
Allen said those at the sheriff’s office on U.S. 2 in Grand Isle will go outside for the silent salute. Those on patrol or other duties will participate in a safe spot.
State Police Lt. Jerry Partin, station commander for Franklin and Grand Isle Counties, said troopers also will be participating in the statewide salute. Vermont State Police, which was founded in 1947, have lost five troopers in the line of duty, including the most recent police death in 2015.
Among the 40 known fallen officers are: Franklin County Deputy Sheriffs Carlos O. Farnsworth on March 15, 1883 and Otis Gross on Sept. 24, 1934.
Ten deputies sheriffs, including two in Chittenden County, have died statewide.
Other Franklin County residents include James B. Fuller of U.S. Customs on May 7, 1984 and Tammy Aamodt of U.S. Immigration on March 7, 1987.
All the Vermont police leaders stressed that their officers, if in the middle of an emergency, will be excluded.
After the one minute of silence and salute, regular assignments will resume.
Throughout the nation police will be honored in a variety of ways. President Donald Trump has said blue lights will be used at the White House and Governors are being urged to have flags flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day, the police association noted.
The Vermont tradition has been a special event at the police academy in Pittsford each year, but COVID-19 has changed that, Merkel said.
The minute of silence and salute is a new way Vermont law enforcement officers “are choosing to acknowledge this solemn day. All of Vermont's fallen law enforcement officers deserve to be remembered and honored for giving their lives while in the performance of their duties,” Merkel said.
A small ceremony also is planned outside the statehouse in Montpelier. Former Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon and his wife Karen, long-time supporters of Vermont law enforcement, will place a memorial wreath on a stand in front of the Statehouse flagpole at 6:15 a.m., Merkel said.
Following the wreath placement, the names of Vermont’s fallen officers will be read. Police cruisers will be parked in front of the statehouse with their emergency lights activated.
Gov. Phil Scott will raise the flag and then lower it to half-staff.