AUGUSTA (NEWS CENTER Maine) - There's one more name on the Maine Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall in Augusta: Nathan Desjardins. His family, supporters, politicians, and law enforcement gathered for a ceremony in Augusta Thursday to honor the young fallen officer.
Corporal Eugene Cole was also honored at the service. His name will be added to the wall next year.
In order to qualify for the memorial, an officer must have died in a violent on-duty action.
The criteria aren’t sitting well with families whose fallen officers don’t qualify.
Take Chris Gardner, for example, who died in 2016 as a result of a training injury.
There’s also Perley Kennie, who died in 1966. The Westbrook Police Officer had a massive heart attack on the job after carrying a pregnant woman down multiple flights of stairs.
“I've always thought he should be here on this wall with the rest of the Maine heroes,” said his nephew Tim Libby.
Both Kennie’s and Gardner’s names are on the national memorial wall in Washington, D.C. They don’t qualify for Maine because their deaths didn’t happen in an action moment on the job.
Tim Libby says he was told his uncle didn’t die a “violent enough death.”
NEWS CENTER Maine obtained copies of the application criteria for officers. Nowhere does it mention that a death must be violent.
The application says an officer must have “died as a direct and proximate result of a personal injury in the line of duty.”
Still - board members say each case is taken to a vote, and the threshold is strict. “There's much in the details and much in the very tough decision making on behalf of the committee, of how we apply that criteria, and some officers we have decided have met that higher standard, and others have not,” explained Stephen Bunker. He’s been on the committee for all 27 years of its service.
Tim Libby says he doesn't want to distract from the officers on the wall who make the ultimate sacrifice, but he does want to see every officer killed on duty – like his late uncle – honored in a similar fashion.
Bunker said the committee is not considering changing its rules but is “always open to discussion.”