COVID-19 has police departments rethinking tributes for fallen officers

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The country is entering what would be “Memorial Month.” It is a time to remember police officers who died in the line of duty. But, COVID-19 has forced an unsettling turn of events. Tributes to honor the fallen first responders have either been postponed or canceled.

“A lot of the fundraising events that we participate in are kind of sitting on the backburner,” said St. Louis County Police Detective Dave Sandbach.

Sandbach is a member of the St. Louis County Pipes and Drums. The band performs at several events to honor the fallen. He listed several upcoming breakfasts, tournaments, and memorial services that have been called off due to the pandemic.

The largest event was to take place next month in Washington, DC where tens of thousands of visitors gather for the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service.

Bess and Jerry Langsdorf were planning to attend.

“You feel so honored that you had this son, who gave up his life, for everyone. It’s just hard to know it’s going to be another year now,” Bess Langsdorf said. Her son, Michael, was shot and killed while responding to a disturbance call last June. He was an officer with the North County Police Cooperative.

“That’s the biggest thing on our mind is that his memory is always there. And people know about him, respect him, and care about him,” Jerry Langsdorf said.

His son’s memory will be recognized, although in a different way this year. Instead of a large gathering, the candlelight vigil in Washington, DC will be held virtually and will be featured live on social media May 13.

St. Louis area departments are trying to come up with ways to honor the fallen heroes. The St. Louis County Police Department’s 2020 Memorial Breakfast and Annual Memorial Golf Tournament have both been canceled.

“Even though we can’t get together and have these functions, our department is thinking of ways to show (the families) that we won’t forget,” St. Louis County Police Welfare Association President Sgt. Shawn McGuire said.

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