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Troopers' names added to fallen officers' memorial in Anchorage

  • Author: Jerzy Shedlock
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published May 8, 2015

The widow of Alaska State Trooper Tage Toll, who died during a search-and-rescue flight more than two years ago, said Friday during a memorial service in Anchorage that no two losses are the same.

"Tage's mom and I are two people who lost the same man," said Nikki Toll, "but our losses are very different. The loss of a son cannot be compared to the loss of a husband."

Nikki Toll said in the two years since her husband died, everything about her family life has changed. Their home is not a constant shrine to his death, she said, but her three sons honor Tage by striving to be "good men."

Thursday would have been the couple's 21st anniversary, Nikki Toll told the large crowd.

Alaska's police memorial week began Friday in two Alaska cities. In Anchorage, people gathered at the State Crime Detection Laboratory under cloudy skies to honor the most recent losses to the thin blue line.

Troopers Sgt. Patrick "Scott" Johnson and Gabriel "Gabe" Rich, both members of the Fairbanks Rural Service Unit, had their names added to a memorial in front of the crime lab. They died May 1, 2014; a young man from Tanana has been charged with their murders.

Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew and trooper Col. James Cockrell read the names of 67 officers who have been killed in Alaska since 1897 during the event's final call.

A bell rang out after each name was read.

Rows of officers in black and blue uniforms lined up behind seats designated for friends and relatives of the fallen.

People close to the law enforcement community were not the only attendants. Brenda Bergsrud identified herself as "general public." She said she came to the gathering because she wanted to support the state's officers and their families.

"Human life is important," Bergsrud said. "They're the folks who run to a problem when people are in trouble, and I wouldn't want to have our city without them."

Anchorage Mayor-elect Ethan Berkowitz, whose campaign focused partly on beefing up public safety in the city, said the officers who have died are a reminder of the heavy responsibility they carry.

"I think we can never forget that," he said. "Sometimes we need reminding."

The event came to a close shortly after family members of fallen officers laid white flowers at the foot of the crime lab's memorial while a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace."

As the crowd dispersed, Nikki Toll said she still considers herself connected to law enforcement.

"Very much so," she said. "I will always be a trooper wife."

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