"Why doesn't my dad pick me up from school like other kids' dads?"
That's a question 3-year-old Ziva asked her mother Wendy, whose husband, Officer Robert A. Libke, was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 4, 2013. Wendy was six-months pregnant with Ziva when Libke was killed by an 88-year-old man who had just attacked his girlfriend and set his house on fire.
Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band recently attended the annual fallen-officer memorial service in Salem with Ziva and Wendy. Band said he didn't think Ziva understood the significance of her attendance at the ceremony in Salem, but she would later see photographs of herself and learn more about her father's life.
Having lunch with Wendy about every month, Band said he has seen lately how she is constantly affected by the murder of her husband. Wendy says her most important goal is to make sure Libke's sacrifice is never forgotten. Band made the comments as he spoke May 10 as the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office dedicated its Law Enforcement Memorial Plaza during its annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony.
"For us, since Rob was killed, these [ceremonies] have been completely different," Band said.
But it's OK that the ceremony remains largely the same year after year for most participants, he said, noting that many cultures have annual ceremonies, such as the summer tradition of praying to a rain god.
"What they're really doing is getting together and reinforcing their culture at a time when everything else is in question," Band said.
For law enforcement, the ceremonies reinforce the police culture of "courage, honor and self-sacrifice." In 2016, 143 officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide, up from 137 in 2015. Participants in the May 10 ceremony noted that last year's killing of Sgt. Jason Goodding by a felon with an arrest warrant in Seaside resulted in the 183th such death in Oregon history.
A new plaza near Clackamas Town Center honors seven law enforcement officers and deputies killed in the line of duty in Clackamas County, of which Libke was the most recent. The six others honored at the plaza include OCPD Officer George J. Hanlon (killed April 23, 1906), County Sheriff John R. Shaver (killed trying to arrest Hanlon's murderer April 30, 1906), Milwaukie Sgt. James H. Worell (Dec. 31, 1953); County Deputy Jimmy Lee Shoop (Nov. 7, 1981), County Deputy William Douglas Bowman (killed Sept. 12, 2000) and Lake Oswego Chief Daniel K. Duncan (May 20, 2010).
Four of the families of fallen officers were in attendance at the May 10 event, including Libke's and Bowman's survivors. Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said that he was touched to see Bowman's widow and two children hug at this year's memorial service in Salem.
"I truly wish that Bill could have seen that, because he would have been so proud," Roberts said.
When fully completed, the memorial plaza at CCSO's headquarters 9101 S.E. Sunnybrook Blvd., will feature bronze castings of two honor guards and a police dog at attention guarding a fallen officer, designed and manufactured by artist Rip Caswell, who donated his services. A concrete cast image of Mount Hood provides a dramatic backdrop.
Roberts said the memorial will provide the public with an enduring reminder that heroes do exist. Roberts thanked the public-safety professionals in the audience for their continued valor in doing their jobs every day.
"It is our hope that this will be a place where people can come to reflect and remember the incredible sacrifice of our fallen officers," Roberts said.
About $350,000 was donated to make the project a reality, including donated professional services. Donors included the Speckman Family Foundation, the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation, Clackamas Federal Credit Union, Clackamas County Peace Officers, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Command Staff Association, Bill and Dolores Call, Miles Fiberglass, General Growth Properties/Clackamas Town Center, American Medical Response, LRS Architects, P&C Construction, Earthworks Landscaping, Architectural Metal Crafters, Clackamas County administration and Clackamas Landscape Supply.