QUINCY -- Police Chief Rob Copley typically reads a list of 13 area law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty in Missouri and Illinois at the National Peace Officer Memorial Day ceremony at Quincy City Hall.
That number rose to 14 during the ceremony Wednesday with the addition of Edwin James "Big Jim" Simmons, who died June 8, 1924. An article from the June 9, 1924, issue of The Quincy Daily Herald said Simmons succumbed to wounds he received five years earlier when he was Adams County sheriff. He and Quincy Police Officer Robert Bumster were taking a prisoner charged with murder from Kansas City to Quincy on April 20, 1919, when the prisoner's brother boarded a train near Clarence, Mo., and shot Simmons, Bumster and an actor standing in the aisle. Bumster died within a week.
Copley said the discovery was made by retired Quincy police officer Jim Rost.
"Big Jim began his career with the Quincy Police Department, and after working 11 years, he ran for Adams County sheriff and was elected to that post in 1919," Copley said.
Five officers have died in the line of duty serving the department -- William Dallas on May 30, 1876, Thomas Seehorn on Aug. 19, 1878, Bumster on April 25, 1919, Osmer Milbert on Oct. 28, 1957 and Frank Howell on Feb. 19, 1964.
In 2018, 163 police officers were killed -- 64 from a criminal attack, 40 from a traffic crash and 59 from other causes. Four were from Illinois.
Thirty-nine have been killed so far in 2019. Nineteen of the deaths were caused by a criminal attack.
In his prepared remarks, Copley said a lack of respect for law enforcement is clear because of an increase of violence toward police officers.
He believes officers must have faith in themselves, their fellow officers and the system, as well as the belief that they are fighting against the wicked for a higher purpose.
"Faith can be fleeting," Copley said. "It's easy to lose with all that we see and do. I have lost faith at times. I have seen that there is true evil in this world, and I am reminded as to why I am here.
"I do not know why God allows bad things to happen to good people, why the helpless are so scorned by the wicked and why when we are doing this that we're too often murdered, but I do know that we work for God."