Ceremonies will honor fallen police officers

Communities in Farmington and Shiprock will come together this weekend to remember law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty

Hannah Grover
Farmington police officers listen to the keynote speaker during last year's San Juan County Law Enforcement Memorial on May 15 at All Veterans Memorial Plaza at Berg Park in Farmington.
  • Two ceremonies this weekend will honor police officers who have died in the line of duty.
  • Farmington police will host a ceremony at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Farmington Museum.
  • A bike run and ceremony at the Shiprock Chapter house will honor Navajo Nation officers.
  • Both ceremonies will mark National Police Week, which kicks off on Sunday.

FARMINGTON — Two ceremonies this weekend will honor law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.

The ceremonies will mark National Police Week, which starts Sunday.

The Farmington Police Department will host a ceremony at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, 3041 E. Main St. On Sunday, two Navajo Nation police officers have organized a bike run and ceremony in Shiprock.

"We'll recognize the officers that we've lost locally," said Farmington police Lt. Taft Tracy of the police department's event.

He said the ceremony will also recognize officers nationwide who have died in the line of duty. In 2015, about 130 officers nationwide died while on the job, according to a press release from the Farmington Police Department. So far this year, there have been 34 officer deaths in the country.

The Farmington ceremony will also include a candlelight vigil. During the ceremony, community members will recognize officers who served in San Juan County, including Farmington police Lt. Owen Landdeck, Bloomfield police Officer Wayne Stedman Jr., New Mexico State Police Officers David Smith and Lowell Howard, Farmington police Community Service Officer Vicky Chavez and Farmington police Sgt. James Thode.

Farmington Police Department Officer Derek Booker waits for the conclusion of Navajo Nation Police Officer Alex Yazzie's funeral service on March 27 at Piñon Hills Community Church in Farmington. A bike run and ceremony Sunday in Shiprock will honor Navajo Nation officers who have died in the line of duty, including Yazzie.

Navajo Nation police officer Alex Yazzie, who was fatally shot in March 2015 near Red Valley, Ariz., will be remembered at both the Farmington and the Shiprock ceremonies.

The Shiprock bike run was organized by two Navajo Nation police officers, including Officer James Hale, who was injured during the gun battle last year that killed Yazzie. Hale said Yazzie's death prompted officers to establish the event.

"It kind of hit close to home," Hale said.

The Navajo Nation Fallen Warriors Bike Run will start with registration at 8:30 a.m. Sunday at the Shiprock Chapter House, located off U.S. Highway 64.

The bikers will ride more than 200 miles through parts of the Navajo Nation, followed by lunch and a ceremony at the chapter house. Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez and Jesse Delmar, executive director of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, will be guest speakers at the ceremony.

Officer William Temples prepares to post the flags with the rest of the Farmington Police Department Color Guard on May 16, 2014, during the annual Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony at the Veterans Memorial near Berg Park in Farmington.

The bike run will recognize 11 Navajo Nation police officers who died between November 1975 when Officer Burton Begay was fatally shot while responding to a call about an armed man near an elementary school in Arizona and March 2015, when Yazzie was killed.

Hale said the majority of the officers who will be recognized were from Arizona. Only one officer on the list was killed in New Mexico. Officer Samuel Redhouse, who was stationed in Crownpoint, was fatally shot in February 1997 in Iyanbito.

The other officers who will be remembered include Senior Police Officer Ernest Jesus Montoya Sr., Sgt. Darrell Curley, Officer Winsonfred Filfred, Officer Esther Todacheene, Sgt. Hoskie Gene, Officer Andy Begay, Officer Roy Stanley and Sgt. Loren Whitehat.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.