SALEM, Va. – Fifty years ago this Sunday, a Salem police officer lost his life while on duty.
Patrolman Bill Thompson, a seven-year veteran of the Salem Police Department, was shot and killed on April 5, 1970. Thompson attempted to arrest a suspect that had barricaded themselves in a home when the suspect shot Thompson.
Thompson was 30 years old when he died.
Thompson Memorial Drive is named in honor of the fallen officer, and a plaque where the road meets Main Street tells his story.
Salem Police Chief Mike Crowley said Thompson’s death helps his officers understand that any day could be their last.
“There’s a daily reminder of Officer Thompson within our department and within the community," Crowley said. "It’s a constant reminder of the sacrifice he made.”
The police department did not organize a formal commemoration of Thompson’s life due to COVID-19. However, a blue ribbon now adorns Thompson’s memorial plaque.