By Garrett Christensen on Tuesday, May 16th, 2023 in Featured Stories Northeastern Oregon News
LA GRANDE – “They put on their uniforms one last time…they said goodbye to their families one last time,” spoke La Grande Police Chief Gary Bell at the Union County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony, Monday, May 15. Here, representatives from the La Grande Police Department, Union County Sherriff’s Department and Oregon state Police along with local leadership and members of the community paid their respects to those members of law enforcement that gave their lives.
As written by Bell concerning the memorial, “In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls, as National Police Week. During this week, law enforcement throughout our Nation pays special recognition to those officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.”
Wreaths were placed by the memorial plaque outside the Police Station by OSP Sergeant Grant Jackson, Union County Sheriff’ Cody Bowen and LGPD Sergeant Ryan Miller. Police Chief Gary Bell, LGPD Lieutenant Jason Hays, La Grande Mayor Justin Rock, Union County Commissioner Matt Scarfo and Law Enforcement Pastor Franklin Humber each spoke on the dedication given by law enforcement, both serving and past, and the risks they face while in uniform.
Remembrance was given to four local officers in particular, each one calling Union County home. OSP Trooper Amos “Spud” Helms, shot by robbery suspects during a traffic stop in La Grande. Deputy Raymond Williams and Deputy Michael L Cheney, killed in a head on collision with a Drunk Driver near Elgin. Sergeant Gary Lee Byassee, passed away following complications with an injury sustained during training. The plaque, with the names of the officers, reads as follows:
We Honor and Recognize
the Law Enforcement Officers who protect the
streets and cities in Union County
We thank them for the daily risk they take to protect us
The loss of any officer is forever felt throughout the community
Trooper Amos “Spud” Helms December 29, 1931
Deputy Raymond Williams November 5, 1980
Deputy Michael L Cheney November 5, 1980
Sergeant Gary Lee Byassee May 23, 1982
At the time of writing, a senate bill, SB478, is awaiting final signature by the governor to rename a portion of Oregon Highway 82 to “Raymond Williams and Deputy Michael Cheney Memorial Highway.”