Officers observe the ceremony honoring their fallen comrades.

Officers observe the ceremony honoring their fallen comrades.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Memorial service ushers in Police Week in Warren

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published May 24, 2023

 Warren Police Commissioner  William Dwyer greets the audience at the 2023 Police Department Memorial Service.

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer greets the audience at the 2023 Police Department Memorial Service.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Metro Detroit Police and Fire Pipes and Drums lead the procession with music.

Metro Detroit Police and Fire Pipes and Drums lead the procession with music.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


WARREN — Hundreds gathered in the atrium of the Warren City Hall for the Warren Police Department Memorial Service on May 8, to pay homage to police officers who fell in the line of duty from COVID-19, suicide, maladies and natural causes.

This was the first public ceremony in three years due to the pandemic.  The event ushered in Police Week, which started May 15.

“I am happy to have this event return to an in-person ceremony because of what this event means to anybody who has ever worked in law enforcement,” said Warren Police Commissioner Willian Dwyer. “Police Week is a proud and emotional week for law enforcement officers and family members across the United States. I know the officers will be happy and proud to attend this ceremony.”

Among those officers in attendance were newly hired police officer Brian Sanko, who has been with the department a little more than two weeks, to longtime veteran Larry Gentry, who served 30 years on the force after joining Oct. 27, 1967.

Gentry was injured in the line of duty in February 1971.  “(I was) stabbed in the heart and it stopped my heart three times,” said Gentry.

According to his wife Lorrie, Gentry went back to work a couple of months after his injury and worked in the property room until he retired.

“He went back to work in 1971 and retired in 1997,” said Lorrie.  “The Warren Police Department is the best.”

The ceremony had all the trappings of a service for military dignitaries, starting with the Warren Police Department Honor Guard filing in and later raising the flag as officers saluted. The Cousino High School Band performed the national anthem, and the Cromie Elementary School fifth grade safety patrol led the Pledge of Allegiance. The commissioner and Mayor James Fouts were among those who gave remarks. During the ceremony, seven members of the honor guard issued a 21-gun salute with three rounds of shots fired. Taps followed. Later in the service, the Metro Detroit Police and Fire Pipes and Drums played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes and drums.

Officer Edward Anthony Rea and Sgt. Christopher Michael Wouters were honored with family, friends and colleagues in attendance. Both men fell in the line of duty.

“I would like to again offer my condolences to the families of police officer Edward Rea and Sgt. Christopher Wouters who are in attendance today. It takes special pride, courage, and sacrifice to be a police officer,” said Dwyer. “These men were heroes. We shall always remember their sacrifice and their efforts to move our world forward and make it a just and safe place. These fine officers will never be forgotten by the Warren Police Department. We will keep them and their families in our prayers forever.”

Although it has been more than 40 years since the death of officer Rea, who died in the line of duty on March 3, 1969, at 26 years old, his presence remains as a key part of law enforcement.  The 37th District Court in Warren was renamed the Edward A. Rea Judicial Building on July 25, 1975.

“The people I spoke to said he was an outstanding officer and had a great future with the Warren Police Department.” said Fouts.

Rea was born in Detroit, graduated from South Lake High School, served in the U.S. Navy until 1964 and was a Detroit police officer for two years before joining the Warren Police Department.

Wouters gave his life in the line of duty on Oct. 11, 2000, and remains an integral part of the fabric of the Warren Police Department. The police headquarters was renamed in his honor on Oct. 11, 2008, as the Christopher M. Wouters Police Headquarters Building.

A native of Warren, Wouters graduated from St. Clement High School in Center Line and Wayne State University. He was sworn in as a Warren police officer on Dec. 7, 1981, and was promoted to corporal on July 26, 1991. Wouters was posthumously promoted to sergeant on Oct. 11, 2000.

“Chris was extremely well-liked. He was well-respected by his fellow officers and others who knew him,” said Fouts.  “I have yet to meet anybody who didn’t have great things to say about Chris Wouters.”

Both Rea and Wouters had their badges retired. Rea’s badge, No. 122, was retired on May 18, 1985. Wouters’ badge, No. 427, was retired on May 18, 2007.

According to Dwyer, 2021 was the deadliest year for law enforcement in nearly a century.

“While the majority of the country was shutting down, police officers across the United States showed up and continued to work,” Dwyer said.

Dwyer cited chilling numbers about how COVID-19 affected law enforcement.

“Nearly 700 police officers across the United States died in the line of duty in 2021; 70%, 490 officers, died from COVID,” Dwyer said. “In 2022, 245 died in the line of duty; 33%, 91 of the officers, died from COVID.”

According to Dwyer, COVID is still a factor in 2023, but police are now faced with challenges that were not present 10 or even five years ago. Those include dealing with people with mental illness, increasing gun violence and increased suicide rates among officers.

“In 2022, the United States had 159 law enforcement officers die of suicide,” said Dwyer.

President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 Police Officer Memorial Day.

“The week in which it falls will forever be known as Police Week in recognition of the men and women who night and day stand guard in our midst to protect us, serving as a reminder to all Americans to honor the extraordinary services of the more than 800,000 men and women nationally who serve our communities and form the thin blue line against chaos. A week to voice our appreciation for those who protect us,” Dwyer said.