Farmington vigil honors slain Dallas officers

Hannah Grover

FARMINGTON — Community members filled the amphitheater tonight outside the Farmington Civic Center to honor and remember the police officers who were killed Thursday night in Dallas.

Five police officers were fatally shot and seven other officers and two civilians were injured when a gunman opened fire on the officers during a protest against the fatal police shootings earlier this week in Louisiana and Minnesota, according to published reports.

Local residents lay their hands on local law enforcement officers during a candlelight vigil Friday outside the Farmington Civic Center for the Dallas police officers who were killed Thursday night.

As the candles were lit during the vigil, Eric Fisher, the president of Navajo Ministries, read from the Bible and gave a short message.

“Love conquers all,” he said. “And hate is never the answer.”

He read the names of the five officers killed in Dallas, as well as the two African-American men killed by police earlier in the week in Minnesota and Louisiana.

The Rev. Randy Joslin with the Oasis Church was one of several ministers who prayed during the event. Prior to the prayer, he spoke about healing in the nation.

“The healing of our nation begins here,” he said. “It begins with you. It begins with me.”

Local residents take part in a candlelight  vigil on Friday outside the Farmington Civic Center for the Dallas police officers who were killed Thursday night.

Before the vigil began, Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said the country is facing tough times, and he spoke about extremism and polarization.

“I wish that this event is what will bring the country back together,” he said, though he added that he does not think it will.

Prior to the vigil, San Juan County Undersheriff Shane Ferrari said the police in Dallas were protecting people’s right to protest.

“Their assembly was to criticize police action, and (the officers) gave their lives protecting that right,” he said. "I just want people to remember that."

While the police had an emotional day, Hebbe said the Farmington Police Department did not implement any extra precautions in light of Thursday's events.

Mayor Tommy Roberts speaks during a candlelight vigil Friday outside the Farmington Civic Center.

“That was a horrific event, but that isn’t something that happens around the country,” he said.

He said the police in Farmington have a good relationship with the community, which Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts later praised in his opening speech during the vigil. Roberts said the police department is ahead of the curve in use-of-force policies.

When Hebbe heard that the Dallas Police Department would be observing a moment of silence at noon today, he decided to mirror it and announced a minute of silence in Farmington. All Farmington police officers who were not on call pulled into parking lots, turned on their vehicles' overhead lights and exited their cars during the minute of silence, according to a Facebook post from the police department.

“I think something like that is always shocking,” he said. “I don’t think you can ever be ready for something like that.”

Ann McCarthy, left, Allen Bradshaw and AJ Roark of the San Juan County Fire Department take part in a candlelight vigil Friday outside the Farmington Civic Center.

Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein, who retired from a law enforcement career eight years ago, said he has been surprised about how much society has changed since he retired.

“It seems like society has become increasingly hostile toward law enforcement, and it’s got to change,” he said after the vigil.

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