Fallen officers honored during ceremony
National Police Week dates back to 1962 when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day.
The calendar week in which the day falls is recognized every year as National Police Week, honoring law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.
This year, May 11-17 was observed as National Police Week. On Wednesday, May 11, the Steamboat Springs Police Department and Routt County Sheriff’s Office held a remembrance ceremony for three law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty over the last 125 years.
“One of our more valued traditions is never forgetting our officers who have been killed in the line of duty,” Burlingame said. “Our tradition gives us comfort that our sacrifice will be remembered.”
One of those remembered, deputized civilian Val Hoy, was a Union Army veteran of the Civil War. He was riding with a posse pursuing a man who was wanted for shooting a teenage boy at a ranch near Rock Springs, Wyoming. Hoy was shot and killed in the pursuit on March 1, 1898.
Deputy Sheriff Charles Gibbs Sr. was an army veteran of World War I. On March 21, 1928, he was traveling through the mountains 22 miles northwest of Steamboat Springs on his way to serve papers on two miners when he got caught in an avalanche. A search party found Gibbs’ body days later under tons of snow.
The most recent officer killed in the line of duty was James Chew, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served with the Steamboat Springs Police Department for four years.
On July 28, 1972, an escapee from a Washington state prison had been the focus of a manhunt for several days, but the search was eventually called off. Just hours after the manhunt ended, Chew was advised a car had been stolen outside of town and was headed toward Steamboat Springs.
Chew caught up with the stolen vehicle, but the driver sped away into a residential area and bailed. Officer Chew chased the escaped fugitive down and held him at gunpoint.
The closest backup was 20 miles away, and while Chew waited for backup to arrive, the escapee said he was feeling hot and asked if he could take off his heavy coat. Officer Chew permitted him to do so.
The escaped fugitive then threw his coat over Chew’s head and attacked the officer, striking him with a .44 caliber handgun that the escapee had found inside the stolen car. The escaped fugitive then opened fire on Chew, shooting him several times.
A reserve deputy who lived nearby heard the radio traffic and responded to the scene. The deputy located the escapee and held him at gunpoint until another officer arrived. The man was found guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a state hospital.
Officer Chew died from his wounds. He was 34 years old and was survived by a son and two daughters.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com
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