Delaware State Police honored Cpl Stephen Ballard at Troop 2 in Newark yesterday with a sign dedication ceremony. The signs will change the street name where the troop is located – as well as Keene Elementary School and Glasgow Park from LaGrange Avenue to Cpl Stephen Ballard Way. Ballard was killed in 2017 when he approached a suspicious vehicle at the Wawa in Bear – the first State Trooper killed in the line of duty since 1972. His family, fellow officers and state and local officials attended the ceremony on Friday. The new signs will go up in the next few weeks.
“When We Honor One, We Honor All” – Colonel Nathaniel McQueen Jr.
The Delaware State Police held a special sign dedication ceremony to honor the life and dedicated service of Corporal/1 Stephen J. Ballard at Troop 2, Newark in the Trooper Paris Community Room on Thursday, January 9, 2020, this date is also known as the National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. This event signified the street name change from the current address of the Delaware State Police Troop 2 in Newark from LaGrange Avenue to “Cpl/1 Stephen J. Ballard Way”
“Today we are joined with Stephen’s family, friends, Troopers, multiple law-enforcement agencies from up and down the state, honored guests, Christiana Firefighters, and New Castle County Paramedics along with the Patriot Guard Riders as we unveil Stephen’s name that will represent the street address in honor of his service and sacrifice. This dedication ceremony is to honor him and pay tribute to his memory as he made the ultimate sacrifice on April 26, 2017. A day we will never forget” said, Sergeant Richard Bratz of the Delaware State Police
This ceremony was a respectful recognition of the devoted service and untimely sacrifice of a life cut short. It was at times joyous and at times emotional to those who were touched in some way by Stephen. As Governor Carney stated, “this was going to be something special; When I walked in and saw the representation from Law Enforcement Agencies from across our state I was incredibly impressed and I want to thank everyone who had a hand in putting this together and honoring Corporal Stephen Ballard and lifting up the family…I had a moment to share with Robin before we got started today, I said well this is a day where we can smile a little bit and she looked at me and she said I’ll tell ya this holiday season has been a little rough, it is a little bit of a lift up. Our former Vice President has an expression of prayer that he offers as condolences to people at funerals and he says, his prayer is that the day will come quickly when the thought of your loved one will bring a smile to your face instead of a tear to your eye and hopefully today with the renaming of this street it’ll will bring a little bit of a smile to our faces as we think about the service and sacrifice of Corporal Ballard…”
The ceremony was started with a warm welcome followed by the Presentation of Colors by the Delaware State Police Honor Guard and the Delaware State Police Pipes and Drums. The DSP Chaplain led us in prayer with the Invocation followed by encouraging and insightful words by the outstanding delegation of distinguished speakers; which included Governor John Carney, Lieutenant Bethany Hall-long, Attorney General Kathy Jennings, Secretary Robert Coupe, Colonel Nathaniel McQueen Jr. along with State Representative Earl Jaques and New Castle County Councilman Dave Tackett who spearheaded this initiative getting the street name changed in honor of our Trooper that paid the ultimate sacrifice. Louise Cummings and Robin Ballard offered kind and heartfelt words about Stephen. The ceremony came to a close with the Benediction and the naming of those to thank who had a hand in making this day happen. A befitting tune of “Amazing Grace” was performed by the Delaware State Police Pipes and Drums to close out the sign dedication ceremony.
After the ceremony, Louise Cummings and Stephen’s mother Robin Ballard were both presented with commemorative replicas of the street sign by Captain Jeffrey Whitmarsh, Troop 2 Commander. The signs were created by the Delaware Department of Transportation. October 31, 2019, the decision was voted on and was made official; which will result in the road sign change in the next few weeks replacing LaGrange Avenue in front of Glasgow Park. The Delaware State Police Troop 2 and the Keene Elementary School will soon have a common address on Cpl/1 Stephen J. Ballard Way.
Messages by the Distinguished Speakers:
“When we honor one, we honor all”- Colonel McQueen shared that thought during one of our many conversations about the DSP. Reflecting on the 20 years that I served with the DSP Honor Guard Unit that statement “When we honor one, we honor all” really hit home for me. I believe it captures the spirit of what the Honor Guard does when they attend the memorials and funerals for the fallen, and it captures what we are doing here today. The journey begins when we ask young men and women, like Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard, to serve in law enforcement, to accept the risks that come with this job and to accept the reality that they may one day give their life in service to their state and their community, and we ask their families to accept those same risks. In return, we make a promise to all, “that we shall never forget” their service and their sacrifice if they were to give their life while fulfilling their commitment to the law enforcement mission. Today, we fulfill that promise, “That we shall never forget”, to Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard, to his family and to all Troopers. Because “When We Honor One, We Honor All” said, Secretary Robert Coupe of the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security
“Stephen was an extraordinary man, son, husband, father, friend, and a beloved Trooper. Stephen’s was committed to staying connected with the community. He had the true heart of a servant. If he were here today, his smile would light up this room. Stephen’s Troop Commander described him as a constant ray of sunshine in a sometimes challenging profession. We were devastated by the senseless and tragic circumstances that lead to the death of Corporal Grade 1 Stephen J. Ballard. Although we were devastated by Stephen’s Passing we were inspired by his selfless service and sacrifice.
The outpouring from the community also gave us hope and reinforced our faith in the goodness of people. Hope that the community and law enforcement can come together. Hope that young boys and girls will despite the challenges be willing to serve and aspire to help others. Hope that together we can keep our communities safe. The love of community is why Stephen- and many Troopers choose to enter this profession. It is comforting to know that their service and sacrifice is valued by those we serve. It also confirms that we need each other. To our communities we say thank you- thank you for being there for Stephen’s family and for all of us. We will always be there in service to you…This road will be used by our Troopers each and every day. The dedication of this sign keeps our enduring promise to the Ballard Family, to the community that we serve- to our survivors and to our Troopers- past-present & future that we will never forget. Stephen’s memory will live on in the hearts and minds of his family and friends and in the many lives, he touched. He will also be remembered as part of the enduring legacy of The Delaware State Police” said, Delaware State Police Superintendent Colonel Nathaniel McQueen Jr.
- After the ceremony, Colonel McQueen also presented Ballard’s mom with a glass memorial that had resided for the past year at the National Law Enforcement Museum and Memorial in Washington, D.C.
- Virginia State trooper Chris Francis, a classmate of Ballard’s at Delaware State University, drove up for the ceremony. “There’s certain people that you meet in life where you feel like ‘I need more time with this person, I need to be around this person.’ He was one of those people,” said Trooper Francis
- Louise Cummings established Ballard’s Reading Buddies, at Southern and Keene Elementary School, which is a program in which community members especially law enforcement officers spend time to help students and read to children. “That’s what he would have wanted.” It’s also what she hopes people remember when they see the new Ballard Way sign.