Waterbury hosts ceremony for fallen officers and firefighters

Waterbury holds fallen officer memorial
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 5:33 PM EDT
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WATERBURY, CT (WFSB)- Waterbury hosted its annual Police and Fire Memorial Ceremony Tuesday, honoring all members of those departments that have died.

It has been nearly 30 years since Patrolman Walter Williams died in the line of duty.

His name is one of the dozens on Waterbury’s Fallen Firefighters and Police Officers monument.

His mother Helen says her family has been her rock over the decades.

“My kids, my grandkids, great grandkids, they keep you going,” said Helen Williams, of Waterbury.

So has the city’s annual Police and Fire Memorial Ceremony.

In its 31st year, the ceremony honors all members of the departments who’ve died in the line of duty and those who’ve died in the last year.

In their remarks, both chiefs thanked the families of the fallen and bolstered their commitment to one another.

“When I see an attack on one agency, I take it as an attack on the other agency. We rely on the police department. We have their backs, and hopefully they think we have theirs,” said Chief Terrence Baillou of the Waterbury Fire Department.

The national outcry over George Floyd’s death has prompted many attacks and criticism of police in the last few years, impacting recruitment.

“What’s happening now is almost similar to recycling. You have officers that are leaving the larger departments to work in more suburban areas for a variety of reasons. But what sems to be an issue statewide, is the ability to attract new folks into our profession,” said Chief Fernando Spagnolo of the Waterbury Police Department.

Spagnolo is always encouraged by the crowd that shows up at the ceremony every year.

He knows it takes community building to find the next great officer or firefighter.

Before the ceremony at the monument Tuesday morning, members of the Waterbury Fire Department went on a 4-mile motivational run, stopping at two places where firefighters have died in the city.