2 Minnesota officers killed in the line of duty honored in emotional gathering
If you walk into St. Nicholas Cemetery in Cold Spring, you’ll find an honored, final resting place for former Police Officer Tom Decker.
His now-retired badge number, 6402, is alongside.
“It’s been eight years ago today,” recalls Cold Spring Police Chief Jason Blum. “It’s always emotional.”
A quote from the Bible, “Blessed are the peacemakers, they are the children of God,” is etched in dark stone.
“What happened is not forgotten,” said Decker’s brother, Joseph. “Just a reminder of the dangerousness of that job.”
On Sunday, family, friends and law enforcement colleagues gathered in downtown Cold Spring to pay respects to two slain officers: Decker, who was killed in the line of duty in November 2012, and St. Joseph Police Officer Brian Klinefelter, who lost his life in January 1996.
"Our eyes are on yours in a time of remembrance and respect, and honor,” one speaker said.
Paul Waletzko organized the event to pay tribute to the two officers and their families.
"Not only remember the lives of the officers fallen, but with the families as well," he said. "And to be able to come together and thank them too."
The service was held in the same parking lot where Decker, 31, a father of four, was ambushed.
"Officer Decker got out of his car, confronted somebody by the dumpsters over there, and that’s when the second officer heard two shots,” Blum recalls.
A person of interest later died by suicide, and the case was closed in 2008.
But the memories still linger.
"There isn’t a person in this community that doesn’t remember ‘the night of’ very well,” Waletzko said.
Klinefelter, 25, with a wife and baby daughter, was shot and killed during a traffic stop.
"There was a robbery of a liquor store,” Waletzko says. “He pulled over the vehicle that had three people in it, and the driver, from my understanding, shot and killed him.”
The alleged gunman was killed by police, and two accomplices were arrested.
But all these years later, amid much prayer and a wreath laying ceremony, there was a kind of healing here.
"It is very nice to see that everybody is still remembering him,” Joseph Decker said about his brother. “It is nice to see he’s a part of this town.”
Nearby, a sign, decorated with a blue line reads, “In memory of Officer Thomas Decker. End of watch 11/29/2012.”
Two officers were honored this day. Two lives cut tragically short — but never forgotten.
"Even in a small town, something can happen,” Decker said. “Always remember, the last time you see someone can be the last time you see them.”