Eight new Oak Ridge police officers were sworn in, two were promoted, and many were honored with new awards during a Peace Officer Memorial Day ceremony on Wednesday.
The annual May 15 ceremony is part of National Police Week, and it pays tribute to local, state, and federal peace officers, including those who died on the job.
Oak Ridge Police Chief Jim Akagi said more than 20,000 officers have died while working since 1792, and on average, one is killed every 57 hours.
Last year, 127 died, and so far this year, 50 have been killed.
“Your unsung work is what binds us all together,” Akagi told several dozen officers gathered outside the Oak Ridge Municipal Building on a warm, sunny Wednesday afternoon.
Anderson County Sheriff Paul White said seven county law enforcement officers have been killed since 1904, six by gunfire and one in an accident.
Several hundred people attended Wednesday’s ceremony, which included a swearing-in as well as a promotions and awards ceremony in the Municipal Building Courtroom.
Akagi awarded new letters of commendation to officers who had acted courageously or selflessly. He also awarded two distinguished service awards and a life-saving award. It’s also the first time those awards have been presented.
Akagi promoted Bill Weaver to Oak Ridge Police Department detective, and John Hill was promoted to sergeant.
The letters of commendation were awarded for acts that included:
- persuading a man to come down from a ledge at the Methodist Medical Center after he threatened to jump;
- tracking and arresting two suspects who had fled into a steep, heavily wooded hillside near Chestnut Road;
- saving a $300,000 U.S. Department of Energy grant used to fund five police officers through 2016;
- finding a woman who got lost while hiking in the wood near Outer Drive and Delaware Avenue;
- investigating a case involving stolen prescriptions where evidence was found hidden in a pharmacy ceiling;
- helping the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration dismantle a cocaine distribution network that was importing about 20 pounds of cocaine per month into Knox and Anderson counties; and
- rescuing a horse that had become trapped in a horse trailer with a leg that was possibly broken.
The life-saving award was given to officers who helped pull an unconscious man from a burning vehicle on Irene Lane.
The Distinguished Service Awards were presented to Lt. Don Johnson, who delayed his retirement to work on department accreditation, and ORPD Deputy Chief Alan Massengill.
More information will be added as it becomes available.