BERLIN - Police and members of the community met at Maple Cemetery Tuesday to honor the 32nd anniversary of when an officer died in the line of duty.
“It’s difficult, it always is,” said Bill Casner after the ceremony honoring his brother Jeffery G. Casner, who was struck and killed by a drunken driver who went off the roadway on the Berlin Turnpike on Feb. 2, 1985. Traditionally held on Feb. 2, the ceremony was moved to align with National Police Week and held Tuesday to honor Jeffery Casner.
Bill Casner was joined by his wife, Dorri; his mother, Jean Casner; sisters Kathryn Casner and Dr. Ann Aresco; cousins Jack Casner, who is the Cheshire fire chief, and Peggy Mikolinski for the ceremony that began with trumpet playing, a placing of a wreath with the words “Always Remember,” and comments by Berlin Police Chief Paul Fitzgerald, who thanked everyone in attendance.
“Unfortunately it’s very similar to any other disease,” Bill Casner said of drunken driving, the action that took his brother’s life. “Until it affects you personally, you’re not going to pay that much attention to it. People that are affected by either side, whether they hit somebody while they were drunk or they have somebody that they love get hit by a drunk, until that happens and you realize that it’s totally avoidable, that there’s just no reason in this day and age for it to ever happen with all the types of ways to get home, that you don’t have to get behind the wheel, but unfortunately it’s still happening.”
“I think (the ceremony) is great,” said Brian Gallagher, a former Newington police officer who now works in West Hartford and who knew Jeffrey G. Casner. “Never forget,” he said.
At the ceremony, Fitzgerald presented the Jeffery Casner Award to Officer Thomas Blake, who made eight DUI arrests in 2016, representing 19 percent of the total arrests of the kind made by Berlin Police Department last year.
“He is a leader among patrol officers in the department, in our current day against drunk driving,” said Fitzgerald. “He is responsible for making the most arrests of driving under the influence during the year.”
With an audience present, Fitzgerald also presented Canine Officer Aimee Krzykowski the “Chief’s Achievement Award,” for her work with K-9 Titan.
“They are both dedicated to the department and its mission and have worked hard together to promote unity and awareness within the department. In recognition and appreciation of their dedication and hard working service I am pleased to present the police chief’s achievement award,” he said.
“The fact that you never forget, you do it at a nice time of year. It’s enjoyable, or about as enjoyable as it could be,” Bill Casner said.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.