WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The public events set to be part of National Police Week 2020, where fallen Milwaukee Police Officer Matthew Rittner was to be honored in the nation's capital, were canceled Wednesday, March 18 as a result of the coronavirus.
Officials with the group Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) made the announcement on social media -- citing government and health restrictions in place in the D.C. and Virginia area.
C.O.P.S. officials shared the following statement on social media, along with a few ideas for survivors to consider:
"C.O.P.S. understands the devastation and disappointment this will cause to survivors. The 2019 fallen officers deserve every bit of honor they were going to receive during NPW. Be assured, their families and co-workers will have an opportunity to visit our nation's capital where they can participate in events honoring their officer. The leaders of NPW, including C.O.P.S. are in discussion as to what that will look like going forward. While no decisions have been made at this time, please know your C.O.P.S. National Board and staff are actively involved in those discussions and will work diligently to support you and advocate for you as decisions are made. You will continue to be updated during this process."
In the meantime, a few ideas for survivors to consider are:
C.O.P.S. officials added, "This decision was extremely difficult, yet necessary to protect the health and wellness of our members. Your support is appreciated during these trying times, but please know the C.O.P.S. National Board and Staff are here to answer any questions you may have. We will get through this. Together."
Matthew Rittner's death in the line of duty
Officer Rittner was shot and killed as he executed a narcotics and firearms-related search warrant at a home near 12th Street and Manitoba Street Feb. 6, 2019.
As MPD'sTactical Enforcement Unit attempted to breach the apartment door, Jordan Fricke opened fire with an AK-47, shooting through the door and striking Officer Rittner in the chest.
Officer Rittner was transported to Froedtert Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
Jordan Fricke was taken into custody at the scene. He was convicted by a jury in July 2019 on four counts -- first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, first-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon (two counts), and maintaining a drug trafficking place. This, after the defense argued Fricke was remorseful -- that he was trying to defend himself -- that he did not know police were at the door. Prosecutors disagreed, saying officers repeatedly identified themselves. He was sentenced to life without parole.
Officer Rittner was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the War on Terror. He had served with the Milwaukee Police Department for 17 years and was the department's third officer to die in the line of duty in eight months.
Three days after Rittner's funeral, his widow, Caroline, found out she was pregnant with their second child.