CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In West Virginia’s history, 210 law enforcement officers have died while in the line of duty. The officers are memorialized outside of the state Culture Center at the Fallen Partner Memorial Statue.
Family members of fallen officers and fellow law enforcement officials remembered these individuals with a ceremony Thursday at the facility, which included the placement of a wreath at the base of the statue.
Earlene Bailey, the mother of late West Virginia State Police Cpl. Marshall Bailey, said she has been to several events honoring her son and fellow officers.
“It’s really a tough job and we really need to respect and appreciate them for what they do,” she said.
Cpl. Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman died in August 2012 when they were shot by a suspect arrested for driving while intoxicated.
“Marshall wanted to be in law enforcement from a tiny child right on up. He told his kindergarten teacher he wanted to be a police officer,” Earlene Bailey said of her son. “That’s all he ever wanted to do. I know he was satisfied with what he did and he liked helping people in the community and talking to kids in the community.”
U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said law enforcement officers need to be thanked on a daily basis for their work.
“This happens to be a state that really embraces law enforcement all across the state, so we’re really lucky in that regard,” he said. “The sacrifice these families make — the moms, the dads, the brother, the sisters, the sons, the daughters — it’s a price that no family should have to pay. We should always honor these folks.”
Earlene Bailey said events like Thursday’s mean a lot for her family and the memory of her son.
“We don’t want him to ever be forgotten,” she said.
Stuart, the U.S. attorney for West Virginia’s southern district, unveiled a license plate in April to support fallen members of law enforcement agencies. The license plate includes the message “Back the Blue.”
Stuart said Thursday he is hopeful the license plate will be available to motorists by the start of next year, adding the West Virginia Fraternal Order of Police is the plate’s sponsor.
He said in his April announcement a portion of the plate should go to crime victims, an action that would require legislative approval. Stuart added Thursday a percentage could go to law enforcement agencies.
“There’s just not enough equipment so that there are fewer victims of law enforcement, fewer fallen heroes in the future,” he said. “I think it says something about who we are that we dedicate some of those dollars to go back to local police departments so they can buy equipment and things they need.”
House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, attended Thursday’s ceremony.
A proclamation from Gov. Jim Justice was read at the event, declaring May 31 as Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Day.