Officer David Romrell honored in nation’s capital
Jul 22, 2019 02:20PM
● By Bill Hardesty
A police officer wipes away a tear at the candlelight vigil during 2019 National Police Week. (Courtesy of National Police Week)
By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]
Officer David Romrell's name was one of 371 names officially added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. in mid-May. Of those names, 158 made the ultimate sacrifice like Officer Romrell.
The City Journals asked Liz Romrell, David’s widow, about her experience at police week and how she is doing.
"I am pretty private, we (David and I) were private people,” she said. “This unfortunate event has made me more aware of how I conduct myself. On one hand, I want to present myself in a composed manner. I wouldn’t want to shame my husband, because in a lot of ways I represent him, too. But on the other hand, I need to be me: a wife, a mother and now a grieving widow. I allow myself those moments to cry and go out without my makeup on, not only in private but in public, too. Otherwise, I would be unauthentic to everyone and most importantly myself."
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is in historical Judiciary Square located in the northwest area of Washington, D.C. There are 20,267 names engraved on walls surrounding a reflection pool.
The Memorial Service is always held on May 15 and National Police Week is the calendar week that has May 15. In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed the day as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. A joint resolution approved by Congress on Oct. 1, 1962 and by Public Law 103-322, authorizes and requests the President to designate Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week.
This year's proclamation by President Donald Trump reads in part.
"Our Nation’s law enforcement officers serve with courage, dedication, and strength. They fearlessly enforce our laws, even at the risk of personal peril, safeguarding our property, our liberty, and our lives. We owe them, and their families, our full and enduring support."
This year, Romrell and her family along with 23 officers of the South Salt Lake Police Department attended. Their trip was made possible by donations from individuals and businesses in the city. Surviving families are treated with respect and dignity during the week. It starts by being greeted with a color guard at the airport and a police escort to the hotel.
Concerns of Police Survivors supports surviving families during the events of Police Week as well as daily support on a grassroots level.
Their website, ConcernsofPoliceSurvivors.org, states, "Each year, between 140 and 160 officers are killed in the line of duty and their families and co-workers are left to cope with the tragic loss. C.O.P.S. provides resources to help them rebuild their shattered lives. There is no membership fee to join C.O.P.S., for the price paid is already too high.”
C.O.P.S. was organized in 1984 with 110 individual members. Today, C.O.P.S. membership is over 50,000 survivors, which include spouses, children, parents, siblings, significant others, and co-workers of officers who have died in the line of duty. C.O.P.S. is governed by a national board of law enforcement survivors. All programs and services are administered by the National Office in Camdenton, Missouri. C.O.P.S. has over 50 chapters nationwide.
C.O.P.S. programs for survivors include the National Police Survivors' Conference held each May during National Police Week, scholarships, peer support at the national, state, and local levels, "C.O.P.S. Kids" counseling reimbursement program, the "C.O.P.S. Kids" summer camp, "C.O.P.S. Teens" Outward Bound Adventure for young adults, special retreats for spouses, parents, siblings, adult children, extended family, and co-workers, trial and parole support, and other assistance programs.
C.O.P.S. conducts a Survivors' Conference during Police Week. The conference gives tools to survivors as well as provides them opportunities to make connections with others who are in the same situation. A sample of past sessions include topics such as: Dealing with Family and Friends that Don't Get It; It Isn’t Over When It’s Over; and Reaching Out to the Newly Bereaved.
"The biggest thing I learned is that people grieving and mourn in their own ways and in their own time,” Romrell said. “Also, that we all need help, whether we admit it or not. It’s important to reach out, don’t assume someone else has already done it or that you can’t do anything for someone who is grieving. Even a simple text to check up on someone goes a long way."
One of the big events during police week is the candlelight vigil. Held on the National Mall, it is open to the public and each new name is read during the vigil.
Romrell observed, "The candlelight vigil was the most memorable part of Police Week. It was a perfect night. The sky was filled with big puffy clouds, the sunset shown beautiful and the weather was perfect. I was able to be me. We arrived early and got our seats while we waited for the others to arrive. I was able to meet other families, socialize and feel a spirit of love and family. During the actual vigil, my son Jackson was a dream. I couldn’t have asked for better. I was able to light a candle for both him and I. I held him in my arms and looked down on him. I couldn’t help but shed rivers of tears. It was a profound moment of sadness and remembrance for David. I am glad I had the honor to experience the vigil with my son. It’s something I will never forget."
When asked what she will tell Jackson about Police Week when he is older, Romrell replied, "I will tell Jackson what it’s about—honoring and remembering the fallen and knowing that they are never forgotten. Jackson won’t remember anything of his first visit to D.C. for Police Week, but I will tell him how significant it is and how much meaning is behind the week. I hope I can take him again, when he’s older and [can] remember."
Romrell said that when she tells her grandchildren about their grandfather, she’ll say, "That he was a hero. He was a good guy, who had a great sense of humor, loved the outdoors, loved his family, and he loved being a Marine and a police officer."
When asked what can the average resident do for first responders and how can they show respect for her husband, Romrell replied first with gratitude.
“I would say to the average Joe, be kind to first responders,” she said. “They receive little recognition and crap pay for what they do for the community. Kindness and gratitude go a long way. Even stopping to tell them thank you can mean a lot."