'Celebrated in life and death:' 3 officers killed in the line of duty remembered at special church service

MILWAUKEE -- Three heroes were honored and remembered Sunday, June 9 in Milwaukee for their sacrifice. Officials at Mount Zion Assembly Church presented three plaques to the Milwaukee Police Department, honoring three fallen officers.

The gesture was deeply personal. One of the organizers has a son who is a lieutenant with the Milwaukee Fire Department, and said the sacrifice of Officer Charles Irvine Jr., Officer Michael Michalski and Officer Matthew Rittner is something he worries about every day.

The deaths of Officer Irvine (June 7, 2018), Officer Michalski (July 25, 2018), and Officer Rittner (Feb. 6, 2019) were the first line-of-duty deaths for MPD in 22 years.

Officer Irvine Jr., Officer Michalski, Officer Rittner

Pastor Monica Parchia Price

"It's very important that everyone be celebrated in life and death," said Pastor Monica Parchia Price.

MPD was presented with three plaques, one for each fallen officer.

"As we are all part of the community -- when one hurts, we all should hurt," said Pastor Monica Parchia Price.

Each plaque would hang on the wall at their respective police districts.

Officer Irvine Jr. died after a crash during a pursuit near 76th and Silver Spring Drive, and was described at Sunday's event as "one of the most professional, friendly, and caring -- truly, genuinely caring officers."

Officer Michalski died after he was shot while searching for a wanted subject near 28th and Wright, and was described at Sunday's event as someone who "often prayed for the people -- the suspects -- he went after and arrested."

Officer Rittner died after he was shot while executing a search warrant near 12th and Manitoba. During Sunday's event, it was said that Rittner "would want us to smile coming into work."

Officer Charles Irvine Jr., Officer Michael Michalski, Officer Matthew RIttner

Ricky Price Sr.

The honor and prayers were part of the church's "A Weekend with the Teamsters" fellowship, celebrating heroes in the community.

"I feel like I lost three sons," said Ricky Price Sr., founder of the event. "My son is a lieutenant on Milwaukee's Fire Department."

Inside the church Sunday, there was a blessing for those who continue to keep us safe, despite the danger.

"I think about one of the famous messages that Martin Luther King spoke: 'We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools,'" said Price Sr.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales could not attend Sunday's service, but a letter was read on his behalf. MPD officer said they were grateful for the community's support during the difficult time.