The Brillion News
BRILLION – In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. Currently, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, DC to participate in a number of planned events which honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Next week Brillion Police Chief Jo Ann Mignon will be among those in DC In November of 2014, Mignon was asked to become a trustee on the Wisconsin C.O.P.S (Concerns of Police Survivors) board and will be in Washington DC assisting Wisconsin survivors as their loved ones name is placed on the National Memorial and they attend other planned events.
Dedicated on October 15, 1991, the Memorial honors federal, state and local law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of our nation and its people.
Carved on the walls are the names of more than 20,000 officers who have been killed in the line of duty throughout U.S. history, dating back to the first known death in 1791.
Unlike many other memorials in Washington, DC, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is ever-changing: new names of fallen officers are added to the monument each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week which is very emotional.
Mignon has been to Washington DC three times during National Police Week – her first time was in 2003 as a new survivor herself to see her partners name added to the wall.
In 2002, Officer Stephanie Markins and Officer Robert Etter were killed when the driver of a full-size pickup truck deliberately struck their patrol car while it was stopped at a stop sign in the 3800-block of West Mason Street (Highway 54).
The suspect was found guilty of first degree intentional homicide in 2003, and sentenced to at least 50 years in prison. Officer Markins had been employed with the Hobart/Lawrence Police Department for just one month, and previously was a police officer for three years with the Brillion Police Department.
“The loss was very traumatic for our whole department; Stephanie Markins was still working on our department and was close friends with us when she was killed,” Mignon said.
Mignon along with fellow Officers Schend, Muller and Campbell were able to travel to Washington DC and attended C.O.P.S. programs for survivors including the National Police Survivors’ Conference which helps co –workers and other survivors cope with the grief after a line of duty death Mignon said the services C.O.P.S provided to them during their first trip to Washington was very impactful.
“We were in kind of a fog after everything that had happened. We were assigned a C.O.P.S liaison who met with us and helped our department through the trial in spring of 2003, and then was there to meet us when we got to Washington. It was so helpful to have a familiar face when we got to Washington DC, they were there to walk us through each step and event which took place and made sure we were OK.
“I don’t know how we would have ever gotten through our first year without their help.”
Mignon and fellow co-workers returned to Washington twice after that and she and Lt. Kirk Schend were part of the honor guard teams who stand watch over the memorial and also escorted survivors to their seats during the candlelight vigil.
Mignon said ever since the first trip to DC in 2003 she has wanted to be there for other survivors and this year serving as a trustee she will be able to do so.
To read the full story, please purchase the May 7, 2015 print edition of The Brillion News.