This page is dedicated to the Rhode Island State Troopers that made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Each individual died upholding the highest traditions of the Rhode Island State Police.
In 1791, the first line-of-duty death of a law enforcement officer occurred in the United States. In 1962 President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15th falls as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week "pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others."
Every year the Rhode Island State Police holds a Memorial Ceremony during National Police Week to pay tribute to every law enforcement officer killed within the past year and recognize the seven Rhode Island State Troopers who made the ultimate sacrifice while "In the Service of the State." We also remember and honor the sworn and civilian members who have been part of the Rhode Island State Police family who are no longer with us and the law enforcement community.
The Rhode Island State Police Badge Retirement Ceremony was held to honor the seven troopers who gave their lives while in the line of duty and "In the Service of the State" since the founding of the Rhode Island State Police in 1925. Although there is nothing the Division can ever do to repay the families of these fallen troopers for their sacrifice, it was decided that the Division would remember and honor them by retiring their badge numbers. A trooper's badge number is his or her identity. Troopers keep their badge number throughout their career. The only time a trooper changes their badge number is if they become a member of the Command Staff. Otherwise, the badge number they are assigned when they are sworn in is the badge number they retire with.
Five of the seven badge numbers had been worn by troopers when they were killed and had been assigned to current members of the Rhode Island State Police. Without reservation, they each gave up their badge numbers so that the Division could honor and pay tribute to the troopers who died in the line of duty.
These troopers were:
Badge number 57 was currently unassigned, but was last worn by Captain Ernest C. Quarry, Jr. before he became a member of the Command Staff. Badge number 57 was worn by Lieutenant Arnold L. Poole when he was killed.
The first trooper to die in the line of duty was Trooper John Weber. He was in the Training Academy when he was killed and had not yet been assigned a badge number. During the ceremony he was assigned badge number 1925 to signify the year the Rhode Island State Police was founded and the year he died.
The family members of the troopers killed in the line of duty participated in a wreath presentation in honor of the seven troopers who gave their lives "In the Service of the State." There were seven roses on the wreath, one representing each member killed in the line of duty. There was also a large white bow on the wreath. Each of the seven streamers hanging from the bow had the badge number of a member killed in the line of duty on it. After the ceremony the wreath was placed in front of Headquarters at the Rhode Island State Police Memorial. Also, a memorial plaque with the names of all seven troopers who were killed in the line of duty was unveiled during the ceremony to be hung at State Police Headquarters.
When it was decided that this ceremony would occur, the Division knew of relatives of only two of the troopers killed in the line of duty. When Ms. Allison O'Connor learned that there were no known relatives for the other five troopers, she made it her personal mission to locate their relatives. She researched the lives and deaths of all seven troopers and spent days, nights, and weekends finding their relatives. Most of her research was done during her off-duty time. As a result of her hard work, five of the seven troopers' families were able to attend the ceremony. Ms. O'Connor located the sixth trooper's family in California just a week before the ceremony and in February of 2014, she located the seventh and final trooper's relatives. The ceremony would not have been possible without her hard work, and for this Ms. O'Connor was presented with a Letter of Recognition.
Several years ago while sitting on the State Police Museum Committee, Ms. Barbara Laird, the State Police Executive Assistant, mentioned the idea of retiring the badge numbers of troopers killed in the line of duty. The Badge Retirement Ceremony was, in fact, her brainchild. Ms. Laird was described as, "The engine that makes the State Police train run. She never takes credit for anything and works days, weekends, holidays, and nights. You can't imagine what she does. When we ask her to do something it's done without question. The families owe a little debt of gratitude to Barbara for keeping us grounded and reminding us of these really important things that we need to do." Ms. Laird was presented with a special Letter of Recognition for proposing that the Division retire the badge numbers, for the endless number of things she does, as well as the support she provides to the Command Staff and her dedication to the State Police.
Each May the Rhode Island State Police holds a Memorial Ceremony during National Police Memorial Week, and the names of the seven Rhode Island State Troopers who died in the line of duty are read. The Division will never forget the service and sacrifices of these seven troopers and will forever honor their heroism.