Delaware ceremony honors fallen police officers [video]

 (Paul Parmelee/WHYY)

(Paul Parmelee/WHYY)

A week after his death, Delaware State Police Cpl. Stephen Ballard is remembered at the annual Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service in Dover.

Police officers from around the state gathered outside Legislative Hall in Dover to remember Ballard and every other Delaware officer killed in the line of duty. This year’s ceremony took on extra weight coming just one week after Ballard was killed while investigating a suspicious vehicle outside of a Wawa store in Bear.

Delaware Gov. John Carney said it’s been a difficult week in Delaware, especially for those in law enforcement and their families. “It’s also been inspiring to see the law enforcement community in our state rally together like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Carney said. “To see the outpouring of support [from] ordinary Delawareans for the law enforcement officers…it has lifted me up.”

The roll call of deceased officers including several new names was read during the ceremony. In addition to Cpl. Ballard, the ceremony also honored Lt. Steven Floyd who was killed during an inmate uprising at the Vaughn Correctional Center in February. Dover Police Patrolman Robert DaFonte and Cade James Watts were also honored for the first time this year. DaFonte and Watts were killed when the Jeep they were driving hit a utility pole on an early Sunday morning in February.

“Whenever a police officer dies in the line of duty, we always gather and tell the family ‘we will never forget them,'” said State House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, who is also a retired police officer. “Police officers belong to a very large family of active and retired officers and we don’t forget family.”

Hundreds are expected this Friday in Wilmington to show their final respects for Cpl. Ballard. A public visitation will be held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront from 8:30 to 10 a.m. That will be followed by a “pass and review” of what could be hundreds uniformed personnel. A memorial service will then be held at 11 a.m. A processional will then head to the Gracelawn Memorial Park in Minquadale just south of Wilmington.

DelDot has put out an advisory that I-95 northbound will be close beginning at 6am Friday morning from Exit 4A (Christiana Mall) to Exit 6.  It will remain closed until the end of the funeral procession.  It is expected that will happen during the noon hour.

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