Twenty years before she was killed in the line of duty, Bradley Police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic had written a poem about the risk officers take each day when they put on their uniform.
Her words, which now take on new meaning, were shared, both spoken and written in the program, at her funeral Friday.
In it, Rittmanic notes that "beyond the call of duty, one day might be mine" and states she will have "no regrets, sorrow or fear as I walk the blue line."
The color we bleed is that of deep blue,
the blood that is shed
is without asking for who.
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No time to be afraid, no time to cry,
no choice in what we do,
where we go or when we die.
The color we bleed is that of deep blue.
All too often one will pay the
Those who wear the uniform
accept this sacrifice.
Beyond the call of duty one day might
be mine, no regrets, sorrow or fear as
I walk the Blue Line.
The color I'll bleed is that of deep blue.
Rittmanic, a 21-year law enforcement veteran, was fatally shot last week when officers responded to a noise complaint at the Comfort Inn Hotel on Illinois Route 50.
Two people were arrested in connection with the shooting, which also critically injured a second officer. The Kankakee County State’s Attorney has requested that federal prosecutors pursue the death penalty for both.
In a statement, family and Bradley police called the law enforcement officer a "leader in community policing" who would "work together to find a solution that produced the least disruption in people’s lives."
"...She believed – and stated, 'just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.' Meaning – if you have statutory grounds to arrest a person, tow their car, or fine them, doesn’t mean you should. If she pulled over a single mother without a $1 to her name but clearly had violations, she would consider the long-term consequences of creating more debt to someone that is already impoverished," the statement read.
While Rittmanic was recognized as Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2020, she was also a published poet, amateur photographer and film producer for family, police and community events. She is also remembered as an avid dog rescuer.
"Our world has been turned upside down, obliterated and hopelessly broken," family and police stated.
Family, friends and colleagues gathered Friday at Olivet Nazarene University in the Hawkins Centennial Chapel to remember the law enforcement veteran who tragically lost her life on the job. There, she was remember not just as an officer but "a wife, a friend, a fur mom."
"Marlene you are my whole reason for living and my heart is empty without you," her wife, Lyn Stua, said while delivering Rittmanic's eulogy.
The funeral services are expected to be followed by a law enforcement procession. The public was asked to line the procession route in honor of Rittmanic.