Special week pays tribute to Tate, Deen, others
By Shanderia K. Posey
A year has passed since Hattiesburg police officers Liquori Tate and Benjamin Deen were killed in the line of duty, and multiple events have taken place to honor the men.
Their families have participated in several events honoring the officers, and this week they are planning to join hundreds of other individuals across the national to attend National Police Week activities in Washington D.C.
“I have mixed feelings about attending the event, but I definitely look forward to going. I hear that it’s a very good experience,” said Mary Deen, mother of Officer Deen. “ I just hate the reason for going.”
Deen said many in her immediate and extended family plan to attend the events. She added she’s never been to D.C. before.
Youlander Ross, mother of Officer Tate, is in her own way looking forward to attending as well. She described her feelings as anxiety, anticipation and being overwhelmed.
“I’m hoping that others will share their experience. Everybody grieves differently. I hope to grasp something from others (while there),” Ross said.
Lonnie Ross, The Mississippi Link online editor and stepfather to Officer Tate, will not be attending the events. He and Youlander are now separated. “I feel horrible (about not going). Liquori was wonderful, respectful and God’s gift to the world.”
The special week set aside to honor the service and sacrifices of the nation’s fallen officers is usually held on May 11-17 yearly. A candlelight vigil hosted by hosted the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is set for 8 p.m. May 13.
Concerns of Police Survivors also known as C.O.P.S. will host the National Police Survivors’ Conference set for May 14 and May 16. According to the COPS website, the conference includes breakfast, lunch, guest speakers, debriefing sessions and a kids/teens program for the surviving children and siblings of the fallen officer.
On May 15, the National Peace Officer’s Memorial Service will take place on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The surviving family members will have an opportunity to place a flower in a wreath honoring their fallen officer. They may also get a chance to meet President Barack Obama during the event, though his appearance has yet to be confirmed. A picnic is planned for May 16.
The week began in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy signed Public Law 87-726 designating May 15 as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, and the week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week.
Before losing her son, Ross wasn’t aware of the special week to honor fallen officers.
“It made me have a great deal of respect for all officers. I extend a hand a gratitude every time I see them,” she said.
“Behind that uniform is a person who is underpaid and overworked. It breaks my heart to hear of another fallen police officer in the news.”
Mary Deen’s father was an officer, so she was aware this special week existed, but she never thought she would commemorate the week this way.
She admits that she hasn’t shared much during the past year about her son.
“I still cannot believe he’s (Officer Benjamin Deen) gone. I’m still in a fog. Police officers get little pay and little respect. They are ordinary human beings like anybody else. I feel like they are called. They are trying to make the world a better place.”