Dozens huddled inside Longview’s R.A. Long park Monday night to bear candles in memory of fallen law enforcement officers for the county’s ninth annual memorial candlelight vigil and honor roll reading.
The event is held yearly to pay respects to officers who die in the line of duty, but it took on an even more heartfelt tenor this year as attendees remembered Cowlitz County sheriff’s Deputy Justin DeRosier, who died April 14 at the age of 29 after being shot while investigating reports of a disabled motor home in Kalama.
The event, which drew about 70 people, marks the first day of National Police Week, established in 1962 by a joint resolution of Congress.
For nearly an hour, Cowlitz County chaplains read the names of the more than 200 police, deputies, troopers and other officers who died on the job in 2018 and 2019, including even police dogs. Upon reaching DeRosier’s name, chaplain Mario Gambaro’s voice grew heavy with emotion.
As much as Cowlitz County has grieved for DeRosier, Gambaro said, he implored the audience to pray for each of the officers and communities read aloud that night.
“It’s a long list,” Gambaro said at the ceremony’s close. “Each family feels the pain that we feel. Our country feels the pain that we feel. Our officers in the field, they feel the loss, but they carry the burden on their shoulders.”