Police officers from across Maine will take part in a somber procession Wednesday morning, traveling as a group to a memorial service in Massachusetts for a campus police officer who was shot and killed in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Sean Collier, an officer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, was fatally shot in his cruiser Thursday night by the marathon bombing suspects, authorities say. A private family funeral was held Tuesday.
Wednesday’s noontime service at MIT’s Briggs Field is for the MIT community and law enforcement officers who are expected to come from across the region and the country.
“Sean Collier was shot merely because he was a police officer. He had a target on him only because he was policeman,” said Sgt. Michael Edes, president of the Maine State Troopers Association. “That’s something we all can relate to.”
The event is expected to draw 10,000 people, including Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, according to MIT.
Maine state troopers, municipal police officers and county deputies plan to assemble at the parking lot of Cabela’s in Scarborough, where the procession of cruisers and motorcycles will set out at 7:45 a.m.
Two officers from the University of Maine in Orono will also attend the funeral.
“We understand he has a similar job to what we do — not a highway patrolman or somebody assigned to a detective division,” said Lt. Robert Welch of the campus police at UMaine. But Welch said Collier’s death would be just as significant to him if the MIT officer had worked a different assignment.
“We would still send officers if we have them available to go to those services also. It’s just a part of the brotherhood.”
Thirty Portland police officers have signed up to attend the service.
“In law enforcement in general, we certainly consider ourselves to be one big family,” said Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck. “We routinely send officers to anything in the region that involves an officer dying in the line of duty.
“I think it goes without saying when you look at this particular scenario and how (Collier’s) actions directly impacted the whole region, it makes this that much more special.”
Maine police officers took a similar journey last year to attend the funeral of Greenland (N.H.) Police Chief Michael Maloney, who was shot to death in a drug raid.
Once the Maine officers cross over the Piscataqua River Bridge on Wednesday, they will be joined by New Hampshire police officers who are also attending the memorial service.
The group will muster in Wilmington, Mass., then take buses to the sports complex in Cambridge.
“We really do have a very, very close brotherhood. It doesn’t matter if your uniform is brown, blue or black,” Edes said.
About two dozen state troopers will attend Wednesday’s service, as will officers from departments Down East and throughout southern Maine.
“Even though the types of police work we do in a lot of cases are different, the bottom line is we’re all out there protecting the public,” Edes said. “When you lose a brother or sister protecting the public, that’s when it drives home it could be any of us.”
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: