Award-winning Michigan officer remembered during National Police Week

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 1:14 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Sergeant William Darnell, the DeWitt Township policeman who died of COVID-19 last November, is being honored in Washington D.C as part of National Police Week. His name is now etched in stone at the National Law Enforcement Memorial.

In 2008, Darnell was critically wounded during a domestic disturbance call. Despite his injuries, he fought back against his attacker and went on to serve for 11 more years.

In 2009, President Obama presented Darnell a National Top Cop award for his bravery during the incident.

“He was shot point-blank in the face,” said DeWitt Township Police Chief Mike Gute. “For him to come back and serve the community was just phenomenal.”

According to Gute, Darnell became the voice of reason in the department and a mentor to many young officers, before he passed away in November after contracting COVID-19 while on duty.

“Bill had all those good qualities that were much needed in a department,” said Gute.

This year, the names of 394 officers who died in the line of duty have been added to the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. Of those fatalities, 182 were related to COVID-19.

“We had Law Enforcement officers that showed up every day, left their homes went out protected, and policed their communities,” said Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes. “In doing so they put themselves and their families at risk every day.”

As departments continue to battle against the virus, officers like Darnell will be honored virtually during a candlelight vigil this week.

Later this year, Yoes says organizers are planning a service in Washington for when COVID-19 restrictions lift.

“We are going to come together and have our candlelight vigil and memorial service to honor the fallen of the past two years, since we have not been able to be in-person to do so,” said Yoes.

Ten other Michigan officers are also being remembered for their services during Police Week. You can learn more about them here.

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