Fallen Chattanooga police Officer Nicholas Galinger honored at this year's Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony

Fallen Chattanooga police Officer Nicholas Galinger honored at this year's Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony

May 16th, 2019 by Rosana Hughes in Breaking News

Barry Galinger, right, and Gretchen Galinger, parents of Chattanooga Police Officer Nicholas Galinger, react to the commemoration of a road in Nicholas's honor during the annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on Market Street on Thursday, May 16, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. The ceremony honors fallen first responders from the area's law enforcement agencies in conjunction with National Police Week.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Updated at 6:06 p.m. on Thursday, May 16, 2019, with information about the events of the ceremony.

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This year's Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony was especially emotional for the Chattanooga Police Department.

"Over the past year, we had a horrible incident," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said during his opening remarks Thursday morning at the Law Enforcement Memorial on Market Street.

He was referring to Chattanooga police Officer Nicholas Galinger, 38, who died after being struck by a car late at night on Feb. 23. Police say he was inspecting an overflowing manhole cover on Hamill Road in Hixson after heavy rains. He was the Chattanooga Police Department's 24th officer — including two K9s — to die in the line of duty.

Read more about deadly hit-and-run of Chattanooga police officer

Janet Hinds, 55, has been arrested and charged with DUI in connection with Galinger's death.

The ceremony, which is observed as part of National Police Week, is a yearly tribute to law enforcement officers from several local agencies who have fallen in the line of duty, dating back to 1879. Current officers and some surviving family members line up to lay roses on the memorial in memory of the fallen.

"Officer Galinger died doing a job he loved, serving a country he loved even more," Chief David Roddy said while presenting Galinger's parents with a tribute from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. " But to think Officer Galinger is heroic because of his death is to dismiss the significance of this tribute.

"What was so noble about Officer Galinger is not how he died, but how he lived. Officer Galinger did not lose his life. He gave it — that is what we are honoring here today."

Roddy then unveiled the sign that will be placed on Hamill Road designating the section between North Crescent Club Drive and Cassandra Smith Road as "Officer Nicholas Galinger Road."

"A police officer pledges to keep our todays safe, knowing full well it could cost them their tomorrows," he said.

" This sign will stand as both a reminder of our loss and recognition of Nick's sacrifice. And to the Galinger family, we love you."

Galinger's father, Barry Galinger, said Nicholas Galinger's death is still surreal for him and his wife, Gretchen.

"This, it kind of told Gretchen and I that this is real. Now we've got to accept it," he said. "Hopefully, we'll find some happiness. It's hard to find happiness because you wake up with Nicholas on your mind. You go to bed with Nicholas on your mind."

Nicholas Galiner's death destroyed their happiness, Barry Galinger said, but it brought them "a lot of nice people."

"I never knew what 'EOW' meant on someone's bumper sticker," he said. "Now we see one, we know it means 'End of Watch' with a date and a name."

"End of watch" is a ceremony in which a dispatcher radios two last calls to a fallen officer, and after no response, announces the date and time he or she died in the line of duty.

It saddened Barry Galinger to see how many other officers have lost their lives in the line of duty, he said.

"To see a full page of names it meant a lot," he said. "I understand what they're feeling You see it in their [family members'] eyes when they well up with tears."

He said one man, whose brother died in 1978, told him, tears still in his eyes, "'Barry, I still miss my brother.'"

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.