'The hero of my life'

National event honors Sgt. Curley and other fallen police officers

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, June 14, 2012

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(Courtesy photo)

Sgt. Darrell Curley's photo is posted next to his name on the National Peace Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. Curley's name was added during a memorial service on May 15.

SECOND FROM TOP: Left to right, Arielle Curley, Bronte Curley, and Pauline Curley with President Barack Obama during the National Peace Officers memorial service May 15 in Washington, D.C.

H undreds of people gathered in Washington, D.C., for National Police Week May 13 to 16 to honor fallen law enforcement officers, fellow officers and their families.

One of those officers honored was the late Navajo Nation Police Sgt. Darrell Curley of the Tuba City District.

Curley was shot in the line of duty while responding to a domestic violence call in Kaibeto, Ariz., on June 25, 2011. Curley passed away from his wounds on June 26, 2011.

But honors didn't fall short for Curley. He has been honored in four different places since his death.

His daughter Arielle, 27, said she is very proud of her father.

"He truly is the hero of my life and I miss him terribly," she said. "He died a hero's death and he had much pride in his job."

Curley has been honored in Arizona, New Mexico, at the National Peace Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., and in the American Police Hall of Fame in Titusville, Fla.

Pauline Curley said her husband has been honored in the most respectful way and it's more than she ever imagined.

"Having him honored in all four places was comforting," she said.

COPS, Concerns of Police Survivors, an organization dedicated to helping the survivors of fallen police officers, informed Pauline of Sgt. Curley's honor. They also helped Pauline attend the honoring of Sgt. Curley in Washington and Florida.

"The COPS program really helped us," she said. "They are a tremendous organization there to help the survivors. They are there to help us through this."

Pauline and her family - daughters Arielle Curley and Bronte Curley, son Derrick Burley and grandson Alex Nunez - arrived in Washington on May 13. She said once they landed they were treated like royalty.

She said as soon as they got off the plane they were escorted everywhere they went. After they claimed their luggage a line of police officers saluted them as they walked to their vehicle.

"As we walked through the line of officers it was really emotional," Pauline said.

"It was an honor that all those officers from across the United States were there to honor us, the survivors," Pauline said, holding back tears.

The first event that kicked off National Police Week was a candlelight vigil on May 13.

Pauline said the candlelight honored and remembered all the loved ones lost.

"It was really emotional as they paid tribute to our officers," she said.

Arielle said the candlelight vigil was impressive, seeing all the candles light up and the support not only from officers and families but from outsiders as well.

"With all the support offered it felt like we were celebrities," Arielle said.

Pauline and her family also participated in different sessions held by COPS to help them get through the tough times. She attended the session for spouses and she was happy her children were with her the entire time.

"We were among people going through the exact same thing we were," she said. "It was comforting to know we weren't the only ones going through that hardship."

Sgt. Curley's name joined 363 fallen officers on the wall at the National Peace Officers Memorial on May 15 at the U.S. Capitol. The monument now holds the names of 19,660 fallen officers from across the nation.

"It was overwhelming, words are hard to describe the feeling of that honor," Pauline said.

President Barack Obama gave a heartwarming address to the hundreds of law enforcement officers, family and friends.

Pauline said he addressed them in the most respectful way and was very humble honoring the officers.

"The impact it has to see all those people come together was powerful," Arielle said about the service.

She said that officers from across the nation came up to her and her family offering support and condolences.

"It was very surreal and it was emotional," she said.

Sgt. Curley was one of five officers from Arizona honored during National Police Week.

"The thing that stuck out for me was that he was going to be remembered every year and he will never be forgotten because his name is on those walls," Pauline said, holding back tears. "It's really comforting knowing that he will be remembered every year and that he won't be forgotten."

According to Policeweek.org, police week was established in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy when he signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and whatever week that day falls on is known as police week.

National Police Week draws between 25,000 to 40,000 attendees from departments throughout the U.S. as well as agencies throughout the world.

The event provides a unique opportunity to meet others that share a common brotherhood.

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