Ceremonies to honor Oklahoma law enforcement officers who gave their lives

Ceremonies May 10 in Oklahoma City and May 13 and 15 in Washington, D.C. will honor Oklahoma law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. Five officers' names will be added to the state memorial, and eight to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial at the U.S. Capitol.
by Juliana Keeping Published: April 28, 2013
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• William C. Coen, 57, was on duty with the Harper County sheriff's office June 10 when he responded to a call for backup from the Laverne Police Department. Coen, who was a full-time police officer in Laverne, was driving on State Highway 64 about two miles west of Buffalo when his police cruiser veered off the road at a curve, flipped and caught fire. He died at the scene.

• Mayra Ramirez-Barreto, 54, an agent with the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, and Eliezer Colon-Claussells, 35, a corrections officer with the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, died Jan. 10 in a crash on U.S. 177. The prison officials were visiting a correctional facility in Cushing.

• Wiley Florence, the Purcell police chief, died in a shooting in 1932.

Separate ceremonies in Washington — a candlelight vigil May 13 and a memorial service May 15 — also will honor Oklahoma law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty, Lippe said. Hayden, McCoy and Coen's names will be added to the national memorial, as well as the names of five law enforcement officers who died between 1894 and 1950.

The memorial activities are planned during National Police Week. May 15 is Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the week in which that date falls is recognized as Police Week.

Hayden said she will attend the May 15 memorial service, an event that draws tens of thousands of attendees to the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol, according to organizers.

The events are heart-wrenching, and yet, provide comfort, Tabitha Hayden said.

“It's hard to explain,” she said. “I'm grateful that they honor my husband and the other officers who have died. And, at the same time, I'm realizing, he's not here. It's an overwhelming feeling to have people who are still there for you and still care for you, after the fact. It's like another big family besides your own family.”

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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