Salem Police Department commemorates 50 years since officer’s death in the line of duty

Patrolman Bill Thompson died April 5, 1970

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.

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