Deep in the tunnels of Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, a group of law enforcement officers gathered in preparation for their ceremonial tasks. They practiced their moves and timing as thousands of people sat in their seats, watching players from the Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes warm up. The occasional errant puck would pound on the glass that separated the officers from the ice, causing everyone to jump and then laugh.
These officers, as well as hundreds more in the stands, came to The Joe on Thursday, December 3, to honor the service and sacrifice of Michigan’s men and women in law enforcement with the 5th Annual Law Enforcement Night. Three in particular were honored: First Lieutenant Arthur Green, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Sergeant Joseph Abdella, of the Detroit (MI) Police Department; and Trooper Chad Wolf, of the Michigan State Police—officers who died in the line of duty this year. An honor guard from the Midland (MI) Police Department followed three officers who represented the departments who had lost an officer this year.
The family of Sergeant Abdella, his wife and their two daughters, stood back from the ice and watched as Karen Newman, who was escorted by Officer Stephen Schneider of the Southfield (MI) Police Department, sang the National Anthem. Sergeant Abdella suffered a heart attack on August 14 while working the Mounted Unit in Detroit. Earlier in the evening, the daughters had received a signed hockey stick and puck, courtesy of a raffle held by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and the generosity of Chris Powell, an investigator at Wayne State University. Powell had been named the winner of the hockey puck, signed by a player of the Red Wings, but immediately gave it to Abdella’s daughters, who are fans of the team. Sergeant Abdella was 49 years old.
Trooper Chad Wolf’s family was allowed to sit in the penalty box during pre-game warm-ups. Trooper Wolf, 38, was killed on August 28 after his Michigan State Police motorcycle was struck by a vehicle towing a trailer. He had joined the force in 2008.
First Lieutenant Arthur Green, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, was also honored at the hockey game. The conservation officer, 58, was killed on August 9 when the small plane he was piloting crashed after hitting a tree near the airport he was expected to land at. He had been on his way to a law enforcement training session.
Those who bought their tickets through the Law Enforcement Night event link were given a commemorative coin in honor of the annual event hosted by the Red Wings. In addition, the first 500 ticket purchasers were allowed onto the ice to take shots on nets after the game, which the hometown team won 5-1. Scores of adults and children waited patiently for this rare treat, to stand on the cold and slippery rink of a professional hockey team and score a goal.
To honor the special evening, coaches of both the Red Wings and Coyotes wore Memorial lapel pins during the game, and police vehicles lined the streets around the arena in downtown Detroit.
About 1,700 tickets were sold for the event, and a portion of proceeds will be donated to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s campaign to create the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, DC.
There are currently 20 officers from the Detroit (MI) Police Department whose names are engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement officers Memorial. The earliest fallen officer from Michigan was Detective Sergeant Daniel J. Coughlin, who died in a shooting-related incident in 1923. Michigan State Police honors 22 officers on the Memorial walls, with the earliest fallen officer being Sergeant Harvey E. Bolen, who died following an injury while on motorcycle patrol, also in 1923. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources currently has only one name on the Memorial, Conservation Officer Edward Carl Starback, who died in a plane crash in 1957 that also killed his two sons.
The Memorial Fund is grateful for the generosity of the Detroit Red Wings for hosting Law Enforcement Night for five years, and for giving local law enforcement and their friends and family the opportunity to enjoy a great evening of hockey. Also, an added extra thanks to the Detroit Red Wings Group Sales and Security teams, ASIS Detroit Chapter, Southfield Police Department, and the Michigan Association of Chiefs Police.
“It’s a great way to raise awareness and funds for the Museum, but also to reflect on the positive work officers do to serve and protect in Michigan and across the country,” said Craig W. Floyd, Chairman & CEO of the Memorial Fund.
Memorial staffers Brad Carlson, Senior Director of Major Gifts, and Jaclyn Barrientes, Communications and Digital Media Manager, were on hand to answer questions about the Memorial and plans for the Museum in Washington, DC. Carlson stressed the importance of building the museum to tell the story of law enforcement in this country, and asked that officers look into opportunities to help make it into a reality, including through donations.
Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement and making it safer for those who serve. The Memorial Fund maintains the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, which contains the names of 20,538 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. The Memorial Fund is now working to create the National Law Enforcement Museum, which will tell the story of American law enforcement through high-tech, interactive exhibitions, historical artifacts and extensive educational programming. For more information, visit www.LawMemorial.org.