Virtual events held to honor fallen Minnesota law enforcement officers

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Friday, as part of National Police Week, some Minnesota law enforcement agencies will honor those who have been killed or injured in the line of duty.

Normally, officers from across the state would attend a memorial on the Minnesota Capitol grounds.

For decades, large crowds have gathered at the police memorial, but this week, all of the tributes will be virtual.

That includes the state's biggest ceremony that will now take place on Facebook Friday night.

"Many of you who have joined us before for a ceremony will see some things that are familiar, those of you who have never had a chance to be with us before, this will be a great opportunity for you to come and be a part of it from the comfort of your living room or your squad room," Brian Hubbard, president of the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association (LEMA), said.

The tribute will include the recitation of the names of the 289 fallen Minnesota officers who have given their lives in the line of duty, a list that now includes three officers who died this year.

LEMA is not the only association changing the way it holds events.

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Earlier, a lone bag piper played a mournful tune at the police memorial.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS also talked with St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell. Axtell said the department had to cancel plans for its annual memorial downtown.

Instead, officers installed a display of 32 blue roses in Mears Park, with each rose representing an officer killed in the department's history.

"Each year, this is a time to take a pause and reflect on the sacrifices of the men and women of law enforcement and our community joins us in that pause and that reflection," Axtell said. "And this year it's a little more difficult because we're not able to get together and continue to build that bond and solidarity of remembering the fallen heroes in our city."

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and Minneapolis Police Department would typically hold a ceremony Friday as well.

Instead, they will put out a special tribute on Facebook at noon.

As for LEMA, the association will hold its Facebook event at 7 p.m.