Hello, I am Senator Scott Cyrway who represents District 16.
Yesterday, I heard the very sad news that a fellow law enforcement officer, a Deputy Sheriff like me, was killed in the line of duty. Hancock County Deputy Sheriff Luke Gross was killed early in the morning near MDI when he was hit by a vehicle while responding to the call of a vehicle off the road.
This is always very difficult news for all of us in the law enforcement community, but especially so in this case because I knew Deputy Gross from our time together in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program of DARE.
Deputy Gross had a special gift for working with young people, and I had hoped he would soon become the next statewide Dare coordinator.
Soon, we will add the Deputy’s name to the Police Officers Memorial in Augusta alongside others we have lost while in service to their family, friends, and neighbors.
Next weekend, by chance, at that same location, I will speak at the annual ceremony put on by the Maine State Federation of Firefighters remembering Maine’s bravest who have been killed in the line of duty.
When the call comes in to the firehouse or the cruiser, and they respond to the scene, both law enforcement and firefighters do so without any guarantee that they will return safely.
While most people run away from dangerous situations when we encounter them, police and firefighters are the kind who run toward the danger. Most of the time the result is the saving of lives, but on rare, unfortunate occasions, it results in the loss of one of our own.
Since 1921, thirty Maine firefighters have died in the line of duty. Deputy Gross is the ninety-seventh police officer lost to that same sense of service.
Once a year, we take a few moments there at the memorials near the State Capitol to read the names of the fallen, ring the bell, and remember their sacrifice.
This year’s firefighter’s memorial service is particularly significant coming just a month after the 20th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9-11 with its tremendous loss of emergency personnel.
While we pay tribute to the fallen firefighters next week, it will be impossible not to glance over at the nearby police memorial on which another name will soon be carved in the stone for Deputy Luke Gross.
It is our admiration for the bravery and self-sacrifice that caused us to place these memorials and continues to draw us back each year to recognize what all first responders do for us.
Without people like these we would not be anywhere near as safe as everyone feels today in this great State of Maine which they have all helped make the safest state in the nation.
Again, I am Senator Scott Cyrway, asking you to take some time this week to thank a firefighter or law enforcement officer.