Sacrifice was a key word in describing the duty of police officers who serve and die for communities they work to protect, said a trauma surgeon at Wednesday's Tucson Police Department's Fallen Officer Memorial.
"In every society there are the givers and takers and those who sacrifice," said Dr. Andrew L. Tang, trauma medical director for Banner-University Medical Center, the keynote speaker at the department's tribute to eight TPD officers and other law enforcement personnel who have died in the line of duty.
The ceremony was in the department's Memorial Courtyard at the main station, 270 S. Stone Ave.
"Communities are built on the shoulders of those who sacrifice," said Tang, explaining that he learned that from his grandmother whose influence shaped him into the man he is today.
He said his grandmother, Pearl Liu, was a young woman when her father sent her in the 1930s from China to the University of Wisconsin where she studied social services. She and her husband, Patrick Xiang, earned faculty positions, but both decided to go back to Shanghai during World War II and make a difference after Japan invaded China.
After bombing raids, Tang's grandmother went searching for orphans and brought them to an orphanage she founded to care for the children, recalled Tang. He said he was a young boy when he saw a man, who was one of those orphans, bring his children and all on bended knee, with tears thanked Liu for saving him.
"That has driven me throughout my life to give back to the community," said Tang. He said his work as a trauma surgeon parallels the lives of police officers. Both work long hours to take care of others and spend time away from their families to do their job. Both also experience psychological effects from seeing people hurt and traumatized.
"I view us as brothers in arms and sisters in arms," Tang said. "I want our city to be safe for my family and for the community's children. I want to catch citizens who fall. ...."and be there for fellow human beings," he said, explaining the similarities between his work and that of cops.
He talked about the danger in police work and his role in treating Officers Jorge Tequida and Doug Wilfert who were wounded last year while serving an arrest warrnt for a man wanted in an aggravated assault.
Wilfert was shot in the lower leg. Tequida's wounds were critical and made Tang's "heart skip a beat." Tequida, who underwent surgery, was shot in the shoulder and the bullet went through his arm and into his chest. The bullet "went in front of his heart and missed the pulmonary artery by millimeters," said Tang. Both officers recovered.
"Society is built on the shoulder of those who sacrifice," said Tang, thanking officers for their commitment.
Police Chief Chris Magnus honored officers for their intentionality, courage, resilience, and creativity in their duty to serve and protect. "We need to be grateful that police officers have the courage to go to work everyday knowing they may face the ultimate sacrifice," said Magnus, adding that 145 officers were killed in the line of duty across the nation last year.
During the ceremony, the fallen officers were honored with a posting of colors by the TPD Honor Guard, rifle salute with Taps, a flyover by the department's air unit and a presentation of roses and a wreath near a gray granite memorial that stands on the front lawn.
The inscription reads: "Not in vain may be the pride of those who survive and the epitaph of those who fell."
TPD paid tribute to officers:
* Erik D. Hite, who died June 2, 2008, after being shot in the head during a 20-mile chase and shootout through the city.
* Patrick K. Hardesty, who died May 26, 2003, shot to death while chasing a hit-and-run suspect.
* Jeffrey Ross, who died Feb. 18, 1982, after he was shot in the chest at the Ranch House Bar on North Casa Grande Highway. Ross was working a drug arrest operation.
* James Smith, who died Oct. 28, 1980, while on motorcycle patrol in the reversible middle lane of East Speedway near North Plumer Avenue. He was grazed by a station wagon and thrown into oncoming traffic.
* Barry Headricks, who died Oct. 28, 1974, of gunshot wounds suffered during a heroin bust on East Eighth Street.
* Robert Cummins, who died Sept. 7, 1936, four days after his patrol motorcycle skidded on loose gravel at the end of an American Legion convention parade in Phoenix.
* William Katzenstein, who died July 26, 1902, after he was shot by a man who was stalking him.
* William Elliott, who died July 3, 1892, after he was stabbed in the heart by a man in front of the mayor's house.