By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer
Boca Raton’s own police officer William Emerson died on May 19, 1975.
Officer Emerson suffered a fatal heart attack during a SWAT training exercise. He is the only Boca Raton Police Dept. (BRPD) officer lost in the line of duty, according to Officer Jessica Desir of Boca PD.
Since 1975, the job of Police Officer has become increasingly complex, and the citizens have gotten increasingly louder, said Boca Raton Police Chief Daniel Alexander.
Yet the job of Police Officer still ranks No. 3 in terms of most respected careers, he said.
On Monday, May 13, 2019, 371 U.S. police officers who have died were memorialized in Washington D.C.
“It’s not how they died, but how they lived,” the Chief said at the Boca Raton 2019 Police Memorial Service, outside the local PD at 100 NW Boca Raton Blvd. on May 10.
Approximately 200 people attended this year’s memorial.
The morning before, on May 9, Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office (PBSO) held their Annual Fallen Deputy Memorial to Honor Our Fallen Heroes at 3228 Gun Club Road.
At the Boca Raton ceremony, Mayor Scott Singer described the first function of government as “to keep people safe. We are blessed… We are beyond grateful [to our police officers – and their families] for keeping our community safe and livable. And for their readiness, at any hour [to respond to a call].”
Singer read a proclamation honoring all police officers who have been killed or become disabled in the line of duty.
Boca Police Officer of the Year Rosalind Gualtieri said, “Each year we pray that no more die in the line of duty. Unfortunately, this year is not the year. Already in 2019, 40 officers and five canine officers have died in the United States in the line of duty.”
The local ceremony featured a Bagpipe & Drum Corp from Boca Raton Fire-Rescue; posting of the colors (the flag at half mast) by Boca Raton Police Honor Guard; singing of the National Anthem led by Emily Rubino; presentation of a memorial wreath by Mayor Singer and Chief Alexander; a 21-gun salute by Boca Raton Police Rifle Team; and the playing of Taps on the trumpet by Casey Hill. Officer Desir gave the Introduction, Pastor Scott Salisbury the opening prayer of Invocation, and Rabbi Noah Light the closing prayer of Benediction.
Lunch was served following the ceremony by Mississippi Sweets BBQ.
Retired FBI agent Gerald Bamel, who has held some interesting posts around the country and the world, sat with other attendees, enjoying the lunch, at a picnic table in the shade.
Motorcycle officer Adam Reisner, who demonstrated driving his motorcyle around an obstacle course at the February First Responder Expo outside Boca Mall, was one of the many uniformed Boca Raton Police Officers present.
Also attending were the entire Boca Raton City Council, and Palm Beach County District 4 Commissioner Robert Weinroth.
Boca Raton Police Explorers, a group of 18 uniformed students, ages 14 to 21, who took part in the May 10 ceremony, represent the promise of potential police officers to come.
Explorer Cassi Bolufe said the program serves as a “kick start” before going to the Police Academy. “There’s book stuff, hands-on stuff, such as learning how to do handcuffing.”
Explorer Christina Conte called the experience, “An amazing adventure. It’s like an internship, for free!”
Explorer Thomas Verzi especially likes that the Explorers get to go on ride-alongs with the officers.
These Explorers said they don’t come from police families, but that some Explorers do.
The Explorers program also teaches public speaking, builds confidence, teaches how to interact with others, and allows them to learn respect, said Co-Advisor/Officer Rebecca Coon.
“Not everyone in the program will go on to become a police officer. However, I started as an Explorer. Officer Richard Guberman (the other co-advisor) did too!” Coon said.
Guberman said the Explorers get to attend two boot camps throughout the year, and every other year they travel to a Youth Exploring National Competition held in different states.
The Explorers meet every Thursday, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Boca Raton Police/Fire Training Center, located at 6500 Congress Ave., Boca Raton.
For more information on becoming a Boca Raton Police Explorer, go to https://www.exploring.org/law-enforcement/, call 561-368-1234, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.