Law enforcement from around Southwest Colorado honored their fallen in Durango this weekend, recognizing people in the past century who gave their lives in service to their communities.
Dozens of police officers, sheriff’s deputies and tribal law enforcement paraded up Main Avenue on Saturday to the amphitheater at the Durango Community Recreation Center for a ceremony recognizing more than half a dozen law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in Southwest Colorado.
State Patrol Cpt. Adrian Driscoll, Durango Police Chief Bob Brammer, La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith and Southern Ute Division of Gaming Investigator Gilbert Perales accepted roses and banners in remembrance of each of the fallen. Seven officers fired rifles three times in recognition of the dead.
“I hope people remember that when we put our uniforms on in the morning, we may not be coming home – and it’s for them,” Perales said while walking the Animas River Trail with other law enforcement, their families, friends and those who support them.
Perales, who’s been in law enforcement for 20 years, supervised Anthony Clyde “Tony” Archuleta at the Southern Ute Gaming Division before Archuleta died of a sudden heart attack in 2013 just one day after his 62nd birthday, Perales said. Archuleta had been in law enforcement for 33 years, many of which were spent with the Durango Police Department.
Connor Lowande, a patrol officer at DPD who has been an officer for 2½ years, said the ceremony reminded him of the impact law enforcement has had in Southwest Colorado and the legacy that will live on after he’s gone. He knew going into law enforcement that he can’t change an entire community, but if he could affect the life of just one person, he said that would be enough.
“I hope people see us as human beings and not just figures,” Lowande said. “People are afraid of cops and think we don’t have emotions or empathy when it’s completely the opposite.”
Derick Campbell, a deputy with the Bayfield Marshals Office, said it was good to see members of the community at the memorial service. It shows people care, he said.
“I hope this helps the community realize how many of us are out there putting our lives on the line for the community,” he said. “We’re not the bad guy.”