In 1962, President John Kennedy established National Peace Officers Memorial Day to recognize the law enforcement officers nationwide who have died in the line of duty.
Surrounding the day – held in Washington, D.C., each May – is National Police Week, which includes other associated events that honor the nation’s police forces. The most striking is a sad vigil during which names are added to a memorial honoring the officers who have died in the line of duty. Unfortunately, the list continues to grow.
In 2021, the name of a Grand Forks officer will be added. Numerous brother and sister officers want to attend, and we hope a fundraising effort can help ease the associated costs.
In a Herald report last week, Grand Forks Police Chief Mark Nelson said during the last two months, he has seen all sorts of support for local officers, ranging from yard signs, bumper stickers, and blue lights left on outside local homes.
It comes after the May 27 death of Grand Forks Police Officer Cody Holte, who died when he responded to a call for aid at a local apartment building. When Holte arrived, he was struck by gunfire; Salamah Pendleton, who reportedly fired more than 40 shots with an AK-47 rifle, faces numerous charges, including murder.
Also injured in the incident was Grand Forks Deputy Sheriff Ron Nord, who has recovered from his wounds and returned to work.
Consider for a moment the sacrifice these officers, and others who responded that day, have made, both mentally and physically. And then, consider making a donation to the fundraising effort that will help send a local contingent to Washington in May.
Nelson last week announced that the GFPD is just now beginning the effort, hoping that it can offset costs to send 28 officers to the ceremony. He said it wouldn’t be right to expect taxpayers to fund the trip, so private fundraising will be necessary. Thus, businesses and individuals likely will be asked to help underwrite some of the costs.
As reported in the Herald last week, the department also has begun selling replicas of Holte's police cruiser to raise money for the project. The model is a replica of the vehicle Holte was driving the day he was killed.
To purchase a replica model of the car, readers can visit https://corydoncustoms.com/product/grand-forks-officer-cody-holte-fundraiser.
Other donations can be directed to the Grand Forks Community Foundation’s Police Department Fund or to GFPD special projects in general.
Throughout the history of Greater Grand Forks law enforcement, Holte is just the fourth officer to die in the line of duty. Grand Forks Officer Robert Martin died in a motorcycle accident in 1966 and Sheriff Henry Halvorson died in a car accident in 1952. In East Grand Forks, Officer Kenneth Olson died by gunfire in 1978.
These incidents all are tragic but, fortunately, they also are rare.
That rarity, though, is why Grand Forks must organize a showing of support when Holte’s name is read at the vigil in May. Our city should be represented, and who better to do so than the officers who served with Holte?
We hope people answer this call.