20 years later, Madison Co. officer added to national law enforcement memorial

Published: May. 16, 2019 at 11:00 PM EDT
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This year, the names of 371 peace officers who died in the line of duty—including 158 who died in 2018—were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. 17 of them were from Kentucky.

Each name was read aloud and formally dedicated at a candlelight vigil Monday night on the National Mall.

"It was beautiful, it was emotional, it was really something to see," said Madison County native Karen Ratliff.

Ratliff's husband, Bernard Dean Ratliff, was an officer with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

He died on June 21, 1999, from a heart attack he suffered while on duty.

20 years later, his name joins the more than 21,000 others etched in stone since the memorial was dedicated in 1991.

"It was overwhelming and it was such an honor," Ratliff said.

Ratliff said her trip to the nation's capital was made possible by Concerns of Police Survivors, or C.O.P.S., a national organization that provides resources to families of officers killed in the line of duty.

"You know cops don't make that much money and they were just, you know, that was overwhelming to me too, that somebody would pay for your trip to go."

Among the 17 Kentucky officers added to the memorial this year are two that were killed in 2018:

Officer Scotty Hamilton of the Pikeville Police Department was shot and killed during an investigation.

Louisville Police Detective Deidre Menedoht was killed on when a truck crashed into her cruiser while she was conducting a traffic stop on Christmas Eve.

"These policemen are fathers and husbands," Ratliff said. "They're normal people with children and families and there's just been entirely too much killing and murders and it's got to stop."

If he could see his name immortalized in stone among so many other fallen officers, Ratliff said her husband probably would've wondered "What's all this fuss about?" but, she said, she couldn't be more proud that his service won't be forgotten.