Police Week in Machesney Park honors officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice

Published: May. 17, 2023 at 10:37 PM CDT
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MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - It’s a week of tears hugs and memories as local law enforcement leaders make sure their fellow men and women in blue who died in the line of duty get honored like the heroes they always will be recognized as.

This is part of the 43rd Annual Police Week in the Rockford area. It’s organized by the Northern Illinois Police Memorial Week Committee and the Northern Illinois Multi-Jurisdictional Honor Guard. The committee is made up of retired police officers, chaplains and more. This week’s events recognize fallen officers within Winnebago, Boone, Ogle, Dekalb, Stephenson and McHenry counties.

One of those events is a memorial Wednesday evening as more than 150 people packed into Riverside Community Church in Machesney Park to pay their respects to those who paid the ultimate price to serve and protect.

“Once you’re a part of a blue family, you’re always a part of the blue family,” says Jennifer Mayborne.

Jennifer Mayborne and Gordon Nygren have both suffered through the pain of losing a loved one who died while wearing a badge.

Gordon’s uncle Howard Smith and Jennifer’s dad Michael Mayborne served the community with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office. Smith’s watch ended on Sept. 16, 1946 and Mayborne’s on March 15, 1974.

“They served long enough to make an impact in the community once they were killed in the line of duty,” says Mayborne.

Smith and Mayborne are two of more than a dozen fallen police officers the community recognized at Wednesday’s police week memorial. Nygren says the death of his uncle is unfortunately a memory that will never go away.

“That wound is always there. That scar don’t heal.”

“We often say that they gave their life but in essence it was actually taken from them,” says Lisa Hodges, who is with the Northern Illinois Multi-Jurisdictional Honor Guard.

Hodges says having a memorial is one way to ensure the legacy of those who lost their lives won’t ever be forgotten. She says the police family forms a tight knit bond that only gets stronger.

“Being involved in my church is one of the best things that I have to help with my mental health and we all come around each other we support one another.”

“The administration on down all needs to stay on the same page and work together and stay strong,” says Mayborne.

Police week ends this weekend with three-days of displays and events at CherryVale Mall:

Friday May 19: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Saturday May 20: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Sunday May 21: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Displays will vary from different police departments, squad cars, handouts and more. There will also be K-9 demonstrations, a bomb robot demonstration and the Atwood Park Birds of Prey. Sunday marks Chief’s Day which includes the presentation of the Community Choice Award from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.