Wreath Laying Honors Fallen Police Officers in Delaware - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wreath Laying Honors Fallen Police Officers in Delaware

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Cpl. Stephen Ballard's name was the last to be called on a roster of 24 troopers who were honored at Wednesday morning's event. (Photo: WBOC) Cpl. Stephen Ballard's name was the last to be called on a roster of 24 troopers who were honored at Wednesday morning's event. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. (AP/WBOC)- A state trooper who was shot and killed last week was honored Wednesday at an annual wreath-laying ceremony for Delaware State Police officers who have died in the line of duty.
    
Cpl. Stephen Ballard's name was the last to be called on a roster of 24 troopers who were honored at the event, held at the Delaware State Police Training Academy in Dover. As others before her did when the name of each officer was called, Ballard's widow, Louise, laid a single rose at a granite memorial. The strength of victims' families-- called survivors--was a common theme throughout the ceremony.

"When a trooper dies, we do not move on, but we do carry on," said Homeland Security Secretary Robert Coupe. "We carry on with heavy hearts. We carry on as we deal with our grief. But we do carry on."
    
Along with Coupe, Gov. John Carney, Attorney General Matt Denn, State Police Superintendent Col. Nathaniel McQueen and C.O.P.S. President Eleanor Allione were among those who spoke at the somber ceremony.

"We're still trying to come to grips with the tragic events of last week," McQueen said. "As we celebrate our fallen here today, we're leaning on each other."

"Cpl. Ballard was in the line of work for the right reason," Carney said. "I heard from many of his colleagues how he would try and diffuse tense and difficult situations so that nobody got hurt. He wanted to help people. He was proud to be a trooper and rightfully so."

The ceremony comes just two days before the funeral for Ballard, who was shot while investigating a suspicious vehicle at a convenience store in Bear.

"When an officer goes on a call, he's already on alert. He's ready for whatever danger is facing him," Allione said. "Surely Cpl. Ballard wasn't expecting to lose his life by stopping for a cup of coffee."

Lt. Thomas Brackin, president of the Delaware State Troopers Association, said he hopes officers can take something positive from Ballard's death by remembering to do all they can to keep each other safe.
    
"By that I mean there's really no routine call," said Brackin.
    
Bracken also noted the outpouring of community support in response to Ballard's death, but said there's a "false narrative" that portrays law enforcement officers as the bad guys and mitigates the actions of criminals. He called on the public to recognize "that the men and women who wear these uniforms are human beings who go out every day to do the most difficult job in the world."
    
Many of the troopers honored Wednesday died in vehicle accidents, while a few were shot and some died of natural causes while still on active duty. One trooper died of AIDS-related complications after receiving a tainted blood transfusion during surgery for injuries he sustained while rescuing a suicidal man from a bridge.
    
Wednesday's ceremony at state police headquarters was followed by a similar tribute on Legislative Mall for the broader law enforcement community in Delaware.

Click here to watch the ceremony.

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