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DCSO creates officers memorial

by Merrie Leininger

Douglas County Sheriff’s personnel are creating a memorial honoring fallen boat enforcement officer Ed Callahan in the weeks following their trip to the Police Officer’s Memorial in Washington D.C.

Sheriff Ron Pierini said the sheriff’s office had raised about $10,000 through a golf tournament at Sunridge Golf Course last September, enough to send 14 officers to the memorial with some money left over. About $800 will go to a memorial plaque and picture of Callahan to be mounted in the sheriff’s office.

“It will be a permanent memorial for the department with the ability, unfortunately, to add names later on,” Pierini said. “We wanted to do that for a long time, but we wanted to make sure we had enough money to get back there (to the officers memorial ceremony).”

The sheriff also said if there was any money left over after the memorial, the honor guard will use the money to buy new uniforms and equipment.

The honor guard is a group of officers who represent the department at official functions. Along with the sheriff and Wes Rice, the officer who was with Callahan the night he died, the honor guard were the representatives for Douglas County at the Washington, D.C. ceremony.

Pierini said the candlelight vigil and the memorial ceremony were both very moving.

“I wish every law enforcement officer could see it at least one time,” he said.

Vice President Al Gore spoke at the memorial ceremony and said everyone prayed it would be the last time names would have to be added to the wall.

“(He said) each one are heroes. Each one has their own story about who they leave behind and how much their death affects their family and other officers,” Pierini said of Gore’s speech.

The group was there on Mother’s Day weekend, along with Callahan’s wife, Camille.

“It think it was beneficial for her to go there,” Pierini said. “Emotionally, she had a difficult time, but she did it for Ed and for herself. She knew it was something he would want her to do.”

n Procedure change. The honor guard had just returned from last year’s ceremony when the accident took Callahan’s life on Memorial Day weekend.

He was getting into the small boat that would take him and Rice to shore from their bigger patrol boat when large waves capsized the boat and Callahan drowned in Lake Tahoe, where he had worked every summer for years.

Almost a year to the date since the accident, Pierini said the department has made changes to prevent similar accidents.

“After any incident, we look at the policies and processes to see if we need to upgrade or change them so it won’t happen again,” Pierini said.

Before Callahan died, Pierini said the procedure had been to remove the life jackets the officers wore on the patrol boat and store them on that boat, then put on jackets stored on the small boat once aboard.

“He probably didn’t have enough time to put it on. Now the procedure has changed. They have to wear a life vest when they transfer from one boat to another,” Pierini said. “We also went to a lighter gun belt so there is less weight. Hopefully, it will prevent anything like this from happening again.”