Remembering officers lost in the line of duty
CRYSTAL FALLS — More than 100 law enforcement officers representing 65 agencies across the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin gathered in Crystal Falls on Wednesday for the annual Peace Officers Memorial Service honoring those killed in the line of duty.
Also attending were family members of fallen officers, including relatives of Kenneth Moraska, a Norway policeman gunned down at age 26 while responding to a domestic disturbance call in May 1971.
“It’s an honor,” Moraska’s wife, Ann Marie Muraro, said of being at the ceremony.
“It helps to keep his memory alive so people don’t forget,” said Moraska’s sister, Mari Negro, adding she’s never missed a peace officers memorial service.
Norway Police Chief Jim Shafer said he also has attended most services over the past 28 years.
“We’re proud to take part in it,” Shafer said. “It’s very important to remember our fallen officers.”
Moraska was among 79 officers remembered — 27 were from Upper Peninsula agencies, 10 were Upper Peninsula natives, 11 were from bordering Wisconsin agencies and 31 were from bordering Canadian agencies.
John J. Kohl of the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office was the first listed, killed in 1885, while the most recent was Trevor Casper of the Wisconsin State Patrol, killed in 2015.
The Peace Officers Memorial Service takes place each year in a different Upper Peninsula community.
Wednesday’s ceremony began with a procession of police squad cars that started at Runkle Lake Park and went up Superior Avenue to Forest Park School.
The program at the school included speeches by F/Lt. Paul Campbell of Iron Mountain’s Michigan State Police Post, Forest Park School Superintendent Becky Waters, Iron River Police Chief Curtis Bristol, Iron County Prosecutor Melissa Powell, Iron County Trial Court Judge C. Joseph Schwedler, Iron County Sheriff Mark Valesano and former State Rep. Ed McBroom.
McBroom said he was pleased to see the ceremony conclude in a school, so young people can recognize the “critical function” police officers provide in the community and the sacrifices made by fallen officers.