Project Blue Light…Honors Fallen Officers… (video)

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Fallen Officers from Around Michigan (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 4, 2014)

 

Correctional Officer Chad Charles was just 42 years old when he suffered a heart attack during a training exercise with the Emergency Response Team at Camp Grayling. He’d been with the Michigan Department of Corrections for nine years and was assigned to the Muskegon Correctional Facility. This year Charles was the only human police officer death in Michigan, joining a K9 Officer Death. Fellow Corrections Officers traveled to Hazel Park on Dec. 2 for a Project Blue Light Ceremony.

Project Blue Light started in 1986 in Philadelphia, PA after a surviving mother-in-law was mourning the loss of her son-in-law Officer Daniel Gleason who was killed in the line of duty. His death happened shortly after her daughter, Gleason’s wife, had died in a car accident. “This holiday I am putting two blue lights in my living room window. One is for Dan and the other is for Pam,” she said.

This began the blue light tradition that has grown all around the country.

seed029_keyser_familyIn Hazel Park the tradition began in 2004 after SE Michigan had been rocked with a few officer deaths, including Hazel Park Officer Jessica Nagle-Wilson. In that tragic moment, the 26-year-old officer went to a home on Jarvis in response to an animal not being on a leash, when she was met by a man on the porch with a shotgun, who murdered her as she approached.

“Throughout the weeks that followed Jessica’s death we met other parents, we met spouses, we met siblings. seed22_Angela_FisherWhen things calmed down – which they never really calmed down – Bill and I realized that we were not going to be able to handle such a loss on our own. So we needed to seek out a support group that would be able to assist us. And while we were recommended to several, we had to be careful because not everyone is a supporter of law enforcement. We had to choose carefully and we chose MICops,” said Debbie Nagel, Jessica’s mother. “Going to the first meeting is always the hardest. You don’t want to take that first step for many reasons. You think you can handle it on your own. If you talk about it, then you realize that the death of your child is true. If you talk about it, you know you’re going to cry, and you don’t want to. But once you realize that it’s too hard to handle on your own, you make that first step. You reach out and you learn that it’s okay to talk about your loved one, and its okay to cry because they’re going to cry along with you.”

Dan Foley seed8989_Mary Schusterbaurerof the Wyandotte Police Department gave the keynote address, speaking about the risks involved in law enforcement and the honor that it is to serve. “All one has to do is watch the evening news or read the newspaper to see that being in the profession of law enforcement in today’s world has become more difficult and dangerous at best,” Foley said.

The ceremony included Honor Guards from Canton, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Livonia, Macomb County, Michigan Department of Corrections, Oakland County, Wayne County and West Bloomfield Police Department. The Metro Detroit Police and Fire Pipes and Drums tied the program together with their performances, along with songs by Madigan’s Attic.

The event has been held annually since 2004.

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