Twelve Kentucky Law Enforcement Officers Honored at Memorial Ceremony
“I was 16 and a half years old on May 19 when my life fell completely apart,” said Kiana Bryant Brown, daughter of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Officer Douglas W. Bryant, who was killed in the line of duty on May 19, 2003. “It only took a split second for my life to be shattered into a thousand pieces.”
Brown addressed the crowd that gathered Thursday for the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony. This year, the service and lives of 12 Kentucky officers who died in the line of duty were honored.
The day her father died, Brown had just passed her driver’s license test, that was the first of many special moments he would miss, which in turn continued to splinter her heart—the grief following her into adulthood. Throughout it all, however, there were friends, family and even strangers who gave her hope for a brighter future, which she passed on to the families present Thursday.
“Every act of kindness and every caring gesture, no matter how small, was like the sweep of a broom,” Brown said. “And with every sweep of a broom, my broken pieces were suddenly gathered into a pile…one day I looked up, and I realized that all my broken pieces were at least in a pile now and not scattered all over the place.
“In a world that is busy and self-centered, be the broom,” said Brown, looking toward the crowd. “An effortless sweep of your kindness just might sweep someone’s broken pieces a little closer to a pile. In a world that is full of hate and division, be the glue. A small drop of love just might help someone stick another piece of themselves back together.”
Of the names honored at the memorial, six were officers who died in 2018. Among them were Hickman Police Officer Rodney S. Smith, end of watch March 3; Pikeville Police Officer Scotty Hamilton, end of watch March 13; Barren County Sheriff’s Deputy Rusty Anderson, end of watch March 18; Hopkinsville Police Officer Phillip L. Meacham, end of watch March 29; Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Devin A. Meriwether, Sr, end of watch November 12; and Louisville Metro Police Officer Deidre I. Mengedoht, end of watch December 24. This marks the most names added to the memorial wall for a single year since the memorial foundation was established in 1999.
Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton presented opening remarks for the ceremony. She extended her thanks to all law enforcement, whom she called extraordinary.
“You stand between us and chaos,” she said. “You run toward danger. You go out every day, not knowing if you will even return home. And the families that you have, especially the families of the fallen, you have a special charge and a special sacrifice that I truly appreciate.”
Hampton added that names on the memorial represent the best of the best, but also the heart of service that every man and woman who chooses a law enforcement career has.
The ceremony was conducted at the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial, located at the Department of Criminal Justice Training on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus. The Hopkinsville Police Department presented colors, and the Lexington Police Department conducted the 21-gun salute.
This year’s historical recognitions range from 1889 to 1999. Historical honorees added to the memorial include U.S. Marshal Service Deputy Marshall Russell Wireman, Johnson County Sheriff’s Deputy Dolie C. Harmon, Fayette County Police Officer Clifford Hall, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Officer Bernard D. Ratliff, and Lexington Police Force Officers Preston Pullen and John T. Collopy.
A name must meet two criteria before it is placed on the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial; first it must already appear on the National Law Enforcement Memorial, and second, a KLEMF nomination form must be completed and submitted.
The Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial monument is the only monument in the commonwealth that recognizes nearly all Kentucky peace officers who have been killed in the line of duty. This year’s additions bring the total number of names on the monument to 553.
Once the monument was completed in 2000, the memorial foundation expanded its efforts to include an ongoing financial endowment program, which helps Kentucky peace officers and their families with educational, medical and emergency needs.