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May 3, 2001

Governor Ryan Honors Police Officers At Memorial

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today joined law enforcement officials, family members and friends in observance of Police Memorial Day to honor officers who died while on duty.

The event at the State Capitol honors the officers slain in the previous year and adds their names to the memorial monument, which stands outside the capitol near the southwest corner. The monument was dedicated on October 29, 1990, with 757 names of officers who died dating back to in 1854. After today, the monument will bear 832 names. "We are here today to remember all the fallen officers and to rededicate ourselves to the men and women who day in and day out, save lives and risk their own to protect all of us," Governor Ryan said. "I hope there is a day when we can stop adding names to this memorial and just be here to recognize police officers like them for the wonderful work that they do."

Four of the officers honored today were killed during the past year. On January 19, 2000, Edwards County Sheriff Oren E. Smith, 57, collapsed and died due to complications from carbon monoxide exposure. Smith had been involved with a rescue attempt at a residence where carbon monoxide fumes left one person dead and another hospitalized. A day and a half later, Smith suffered a fatal heart attack which was caused by blood clots resulting from the carbon monoxide exposure. He is survived by a wife and two children.

The second officer killed was Sergeant Gregory M. Sears, 50, of the Hampshire Police Department. Sergeant Sears was ambushed while on patrol June 1, 2000, and died as result of gunshot wounds to the head. Sears had recently married.

Chicago Police Sergeant Alane Stoffregen, 50, drowned in Lake Michigan on June 2, 2000, while participating in a practice dive with fellow members of the Department's Marine Unit. After surfacing from the dive, Stoffregen lost consciousness before reaching the boat. She was rushed to the hospital where attempts to revive her were unsuccessful. Stoffregen was a 22-year veteran.

The last officer to die in the line of duty during 2000 was Hamilton County Sheriff William Howard Warren, 52, who had 23 years of law enforcement experience. Warren had served as Hamilton County Sheriff since 1982 and was on patrol serving warrants on July 10, 2000, when his cruiser was struck head-on by an oncoming tanker truck which had crossed the center line of Illinois Route 142. Warren, the father of three children, was killed instantly.

The remaining officer honored was Chicago Police Officer Arthur W. Hill, 56, who died in the line of duty on August 11, 1979. Hill was back-up for another officer's call for assistance regarding a fleeing robbery offender. A foot chase ensued, and after returning to his patrol car, Hill suffered a fatal heart attack. He left behind a wife and seven children.

Today marked the 16th observance of Illinois Police Officers' Memorial Day. A national day of remembrance, National Peace Officers' Memorial Day, takes place May 15 each year. During 2000, 134 United States police officers were killed (51 feloniously and 83 accidentally) in the line of duty.


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