More than two dozen Tulsa Police officers, including the Honor Guard, are in Washington D.C. supporting Sergeant Craig Johnson’s family as he is honored alongside other officers from across the U.S. who died in the line of duty.
More than 4,000 family members and friends were escorted by police officers to the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building for the National Law Enforcement Memorial Service.
Tulsa Officers say it’s hard to put into words the emotion of being in D.C. for the service, knowing they have lost of one their own. But, they say there is healing in being in D.C., around fellow officers and making sure Sergeant Johnson’s legacy is never forgotten.
Escorting Johnson’s family at the service was Officer Aurash Zarkeshan, who was shot during the same traffic stop as Johnson. Zarkeshan was in full uniform for the first time since last summer's shooting.
“For us, we are listening to the name of one of our own be read. We are seeing his family and all of his friends here and it’s tough,” said Sergeant Ashley Loncarich with Tulsa Police.
This is first time in 25 years a Tulsa officer has been added to the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial. The entire Tulsa Police Honor Guard felt they had to be here this year.
“When you’ve gone through what our department has gone through, we needed to be here. We are one unit, and it was important for everyone to be here and show our respect for him and his family,” Loncarich said.
President Joe Biden addressed the officers and their families at the service, saying, their loss is America’s loss too.
“I hope all the families, sons daughters, husbands, wives, moms, dads, I hope you are able to take a measure of comfort and strength from the extended family you have here and all around you,” President Biden said.
Tulsa Honor Guard members say it means a lot to them to be able to pay their respects to not just Sergeant Johnson, but all the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“It’s to let the family know that they’re not forgotten. And let them know that they are always part of our family,” Retired Sergeant Mark Secrist with Tulsa Police said.
Officers say standing alongside other officers who have gone through the same pain, makes them all stronger and proud to continue to do their job.
“Everyone understands the job, everybody understands the sacrifice that these fallen officers have made, the sacrifice the family has had to make," Secrist said.
“It’s pretty touching. It really reminds us of the dangers of what we do every day,” Loncarich said.
The Oklahoma Standard was on as several members of the Tulsa Honor Guard volunteered to escort fallen officers' families from other states, who didn’t have their own officers in D.C.