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. Tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington D.C. to participate in a number of planned events which honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Chief Judge’s Award is given to the team the judges feel competed at the highest level, with the best performance in the routine phase of the competition. The award is particularly prestigious because the judges are members of the United States Army Old Guard, the elite unit responsible for guarding the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier.
“They set the tone for uniformity and professionalism,” said Sergeant Mike White. “We were obviously thrilled to receive this award.”
White said the award was especially poignant because the Honor Guard dedicated their routine to the memory of Sergeant Brian Dulle, a Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was struck and killed by a suspect’s vehicle May 12, 2011. The fallen officer’s wife and children attended the event.
“I have never been more proud of my department than on this day,” White said.
In addition to the Chief Judge’s Award, the team finished fourth overall in this Fraternal Order of Police (FOB) national competition. The event consisted of an inspection phase, flag presentation, and then an 8-minute routine.
“Our routine was a combination of a wreath ceremony dedicated to Sgt. Dulle, a flag fold, and a ceremonial rifle routine,” White said. “The performance ended with the playing of Taps by Officer Chad Lutson.
“We were the only Ohio department, and by far the smallest agency, to compete in this competition. We out-performed much larger agencies. A total of 19 agencies competed,” White said.
“I have always been impressed with the amount of time and dedication the Honor Guard puts into their work in order to participate in competitions of this caliber,” said Lieutenant Scott Gaviglia, commander of the Operations Bureau.
“It was an exciting and fulfilling moment for me, both personally and professionally, to learn the Honor Guard had received the Chief Judge’s Award,” Gaviglia said. “That they outpaced departments 10 times their size is testament to their dedication.”
Gaviglia noted that, for some of those other departments, being in the Honor Guard is a full-time job.
“Being part of the Honor Guard is just one of the many ancillary duties these officers volunteer for,” Gaviglia said.
The UTPD Honor Guard was created in November, 2005 to promote the professional image of the agency and show the department’s support for the families of fallen police officers, military veterans and government dignitaries. It is comprised of a select group of individuals, under the direction of White, who volunteer their time to provide a patriotic service for the community.
“Preparing for this competition takes several months and many hours of practice,” White said. “These hours keep our unit sharp for the many events we do at home. The week in Washington DC showcases our abilities as an agency, but it also serves as a reminder of how quickly our lives can be changed forever.”