Denver police unveil new policy
and commemoration for slain officers

PoliceOne Staff Report
(DENVER) -- Inspired by the widow and child of a slain officer the Denver Police Department is launching a new memorial program to commemorate the death of every officer who has died over the past 30 years.

To complement the program the department is implementing new policy manual with instructions on how to better deal with a death in the department.

The new instruction manual details the duties of officers by rank and presents Web sites and other sources of resource information for families of the deceased.

The manual was developed with the help of Anna VanderJagt whose officer husband died three years ago in the line of duty. On Nov. 12, 1997, a self-proclaimed skinhead fired at officers during a chase through an apartment complex. Those shots killed Officer Bruce VanderJagt.

A new two-plus-inch binder replaces the previous one-sentence instruction on what to do in the event of an officer's death.

"A family will always remember how they were notified," Anna VanderJagt told the Rocky Mountain News. "It can be another trauma on top of the original trauma."

In addition to the new procedure, the department will commemorate each officer's death with a plaque at the site where he was killed and observe a moment of silence on the police radio on the anniversary of his death.

The memorials will begin with William J. Wirtz, who died Feb. 10, 1971, and end with Dennis Licata, who died in a motorcycle wreck Sept. 6 this year.

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