CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Last week’s killing of a Brentwood police officer cast a gloomy shadow on Monday’s already-solemn ceremony to honor New Hampshire police officers who have died on the job.
Officer Stephen Arkell’s name won’t be etched into the state’s granite police memorial until next year, but reminders of the 48-year-old father of two were abundant at the ceremony held outside the state Department of Justice. The procession of uniformed officers from all over the state was led by Brentwood Chief Wayne Robinson and seven of his officers who marched in lockstep. On the chest of each of the scores of officers who stood at rest nearby, badges were covered by a black band, the sign of mourning a lost colleague.
“Today we come together with a heavy pall of sorrow hanging over the state of New Hampshire,” said Gov. Maggie Hassan.
Hassan told the crowd of Arkell’s last day, when he helped a friend plan a carpentry project before answering a domestic dispute call in a quiet suburban neighborhood. When Arkell arrived, he was invited into the home and immediately shot to death by 47-year-old Michael Nolan, who died in an ensuing fire. Fremont Officer Derek Franek entered the house next and had to flee in the face of more gunfire.
“Like all of the brave souls whose names are etched onto this memorial, and all the officers gathered here today, Steve Arkell answered that call. He went into danger head first and alone,” Hassan said. “Each and every person who name is on this memorial set a life aside for their fellow Granite Staters.
“Steve, with all of our heart, the people of New Hampshire thank you,” she said.
The end of the ceremony featured a reading of the 47 names — including local, county and state police and corrections officers — who have fallen. As each name was read, a family member or fellow officer placed a red carnation on a star-shaped arrangement of white carnations.
Brentwood Officer David Roy, a lifelong friend of Arkell’s, solemnly placed the red carnation on the wreath, representing Arkell’s widow and teenage daughters.
“He came up and asked me if he could,” said Robinson. “He’s been having a hard time with this.”
Also recognized Monday were two 19th-century lawmen who died on duty.
George Pray of Dover was shot on New Year’s Eve 1888 and Sgt. Henry McAllister died when he was shot during an argument inside the Manchester police station on May 21, 1895. Pray’s descendants attended the ceremony.
“We’re very proud,” said Peter Proulx of Weare, Pray’s great-great-grandson. “It’s part of our heritage.”
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