The letters and cards from the community and nation haven’t stopped yet.
For Boulder police officers continuing to heal from the death of their slain colleague Eric Talley, those signs of support flowing into their police department have helped them to cope.
Boulder Police Deputy Chief Carey Weinheimer shared this message as he honored Talley, alongside nine other officers during a Peace Officer Memorial on Thursday at the Longmont Civic Center.
Talley, a father of seven, and Boulder police officer of 11 years, died on March 22, 2021. Talley was one of the first officers to arrive at the Table Mesa King Soopers that day as 911 calls poured in for reports of a shooting.
“I believe that Eric lived in anticipation that a moment like March 22, 2021, might come for him,” Weinheimer said. “When it did, he didn’t hesitate for one second.”
Standing in front of a crowd of about 50 people who gathered to honor officers, Weinheimer talked about Talley’s dedication to his career and love for his Boulder community during 11 years of service.
“Eric’s challenge to us was to live lives that are about others and not ourselves,” Weinheimer said.
Joining forces with Weinheimer were members of the Longmont Police Department and Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
The memorial honored the lives of 10 Colorado officers who died in the line of duty last year. Eight of those officers — ranging in age from 30 to 64 — died of COVID-19.
The ceremony paid special tribute to Talley and Arvada police officer Gordon Beesley, 51, who died June 21. Beesley served the Arvada Police Department for 19 years. He died in a shooting in Olde Town Arvada.
Those who addressed the crowd talked about not only honoring those lost but supporting those left behind and reminding officers to seek care for their mental health when they need it.
For Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle community support was meaningful when his own family was struggling.
Pelle took listeners back to a New Year’s Eve night in 2017 when he got a call that his son, Jeff Pelle, 32, was one of five Douglas County law enforcement officers shot in the line of duty during an ambush at a Highlands Ranch apartment complex.
“We didn’t know anything other than he was in surgery,” Pelle said, his voice filling with emotion.
Through the rallying of several Longmont pastors, several thousand people were praying for Jeff Pelle while he was in surgery. His son survived, Pelle said, and he is still healthy today.
Douglas County sheriff’s deputy Zackari Parrish, 29, died in the shooting. Pelle remembered working with Parrish’s family to organize a memorial.
Pelle encouraged people to contribute to the Colorado Fallen Heroes Foundation, which provides support to families whose loved ones have died in the line of duty. He said many families are hurting.
Pelle told those in the crowd that the National Law Enforcement Memorial reports that in 2021 there were 472 officers who died in the line of duty, with more than 300 of those deaths related to COVID-19. He said that with the exception of Sept. 11, 2001, the year 2021 has seen the highest rate of officer deaths since 1995.
Longmont Public Safety Chief Zach Ardis spoke about the danger of suicide among members of law enforcement and encouraged those in the field to seek mental health care when they need it.
“The critical nature of what police officers do challenges the mind and their souls,” he told the crowd. “Oftentimes, while they are running toward the danger, others are running from it.”
Ardis described how officers are left to pick up the pieces of humanity and face the heavy burden of relaying to a mother, father, husband or wife why their loved one won’t be coming home.
“I want to share with you today that seeking help is not weakness,” Ardis said. “I want to encourage you to take the time to care for yourself and spend time with those who help build you up.”
Officers honored during the memorial:
- Arvada police officer Gordon Beesley, 51
- Aurora police Sgt. Eric Scherr, 46
- Boulder police officer Eric Talley, 51
- Denver Sheriff’s Department Deputy Daniel James “Duke” Trujillo, 33
- Denver Sheriff’s Department Deputy James Allen Herrera, 51
- Douglas County Sheriff’s Det. Joseph Pollack, 64
- Elbert County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Clay Zachary Livingston, 30
- Mesa County Sheriff’s Sgt. Wayne Weyler, 64
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security deportation officer Miguel Angel Ortiz, 51
- Windsor police officer Ty Powell, 53