Honoring our Defenders: McConnell pays tribute for Police Week

  • Published
  • By A1C William Lunn
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Defenders and local police came together to commemorate National Police Week May 13 – 17 through various events across the base.

National Police Week occurs each year in the United States and pays tribute to local, state and federal police officers who have died or been disabled in the line of duty. The week holds a special significance for Airmen, as it acknowledges our security forces' crucial role in maintaining safety and order.

"National Police Week represents an opportunity to honor those past and present who have paid the ultimate sacrifice," said Maj. Jeremiah Baxter, 22nd Security Forces Squadron commander. Our partnership with the local community couldn't be stronger. The Wichita area has been great to Team McConnell and our defenders, and we were able to honor their sacrifices as well this week."

The week also honors current and former law enforcement's service by celebrating their accomplishments; the 22nd SFS celebrates its many achievements from the past year, including being recognized as the best medium Security Forces Squadron in the Air Force.

McConnell’s homage to Police Week commenced with a speech delivered by Baxter, acknowledging the bravery and dedication of law enforcement personnel. The event was attended by the Mayor of Wichita and the Chiefs of Police from Hayesville, Derby and Wichita. Following the address, defenders began a 24-hour run on the outdoor track, symbolizing their non-stop commitment to protecting and serving.

"The ceremony is a special time every year because we get to honor those who have fallen," said 2nd Lt. Collin Hawkins, 22nd SFS operations officer. "It's a great way to start off Police Week before all the events occur."

Defenders also participated in a 3-mile ruck the following day, hosting officers from the Derby, Kansas Police Department. The excursion involved a lap around the entire base. The winners were awarded a coin from the commander before a shared meal between defenders and their local counterparts.

"The ruck was a great representation of the grit and determination between local police departments and our squadron," said Staff Sgt. Bradley Skinner, 22nd SFS patrolman. "To push through something difficult like a ruck together shows the same determination it takes to keep our community safe."

Throughout the week, a defender and Chase, a K-9 police officer from the show Paw Patrol, went to different schools in the area to promote the importance of commemorating National Police Week.

"It's important to make a good impression on the youth in our local area, and to show that law enforcement presence helps to keep our community safe," said Airman 1st Class Madalyn Kime, 22nd SFS patrolman. "What better way to do it than with Chase from Paw Patrol? And seeing the smiles on the kids faces makes it all worth it."

Later in the week, Security Forces Airmen gathered for "Defend with a Defender", which invited kids to engage in police-style activities with McConnell Defenders. Participants could see different kinds of firearms, climb into a Humvee and watch a K-9 demonstration.

The week concluded with a ceremony, during which local law enforcement and Defenders united to lower the flag and pay tribute to the week and everything it represents.

"It's important for military and civilian police to have a partnership," said Jeffery Whitfield, Hayesville, Kansas chief of police. "There's a lot of positive communication between the military and civilian side, we've had Airmen come out to help us at times and I just think it's great to be able to have that connection."