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DENVER (KDVR) — As National Police Week is marked around the country, Denver held its 30th annual Fallen Officer Memorial ceremony.

City leaders, police officers and family members of Denver officers who were killed in the line of duty gathered at DPD headquarters for the Thursday ceremony.

National Police Week serves to recognize the service and sacrifice of U.S. law enforcement.

Officers’ sacrifices ‘sacred’

“While we had a small memorial in May, it was important for us to do a larger scale event so we could gather physically to pay our respects. National Police Week pays special recognition to those officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others,” Commander Layla DeSteffany told the audience.

“Today, as we recognize those who have gone before us, those who demonstrated selfless courage in the face of danger, we also recognize that we owe our current officers the tools, the training and resources they need to be as safe and healthy as possible. We all recognize there are inherent risks in policing that cannot be eliminated, but we can always strive to improve each day. We continue to see courageous acts of heroism and selfless service from our officers on a regular basis. We’ve had numerous close calls, and we are ultimately fortunate we did not add any new names to the wall. The firsthand knowledge of the dangers associated with police work makes the sacrifices of the officers listed on the memorial all the more sacred,” DeSteffany continued.

Officer killed in 1971 remembered

Pat Nading-Amman’s husband, Officer Merle Nading, was killed in 1971 while responding to a domestic violence incident.

“Fifty years ago, he died in the line of duty at Colfax and Gaylord. He was shot in the back and basically died at the scene. One of them came out of the crowd and actually hit him. My husband reached around and got him in a headlock. And he reached around and pulled out his gun and shot him in the back,” Nading-Amman told FOX31.

She said it was reassuring to see so many people recognizing the sacrifice of her husband and all 73 Denver officers who have been killed in the line of duty.

“I have two great-grandkids and even they know their Grandpa Merle. His memory is very much kept alive in our family, even after 50 years. He loved the job, he really loved the job. That was the most important thing for both of us. He liked the job so much, he wasn’t afraid of it. I wasn’t either. 99% of officers come home after their shift. That day he did not,” Nading-Amman said.

Denver leaders pay respects

Mayor Michael Hancock addressed the gathering.

“Our eternal prayer is that another name may not ever be added to this memorial. Each name is someone who is a member of our community and their loss is a loss to the entire city. Each name represents a hero who stepped forward to serve and stepped forward to protect. We honor their sacrifice by gathering. We remember their lives. They live on in hearts and memories. Thank you to the men and women of the department who answered the call to serve. No thank you is enough,” Hancock said.

Deputy Mayor and Executive Director of Safety Murphy Robinson had a message for current DPD officers.

“I believe each of the fallen officers would have looked out at you and been extremely proud of the work you have done, continuing to answer the call in the midst of an incredibly hard time to serve in this profession of law enforcement. Each day brings new challenges and opportunities. You are loved. You are appreciated. By your fellow officers who serve with you, loved by the people of the city,” Robinson said.

Police Chief Paul Pazen also thanked the families and friends who gathered to pay their respects, as well as the men and women of the Denver Police Department.

“Thank you for continuing to answer the call, to stand up and do what is right and what is just,” Pazen said.