25 years later, but not forgotten

Naugatuck police Sgt. Derek Vostinak, left, and Det. Kevin Zainc raise an American flag March 17 in front of the Naugatuck Police Department during a ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Officer Nancy Nichols, who was killed in the line of duty. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Naugatuck police Sgt. Derek Vostinak, left, and Det. Kevin Zainc raise an American flag March 17 in front of the Naugatuck Police Department during a ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Officer Nancy Nichols, who was killed in the line of duty. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — After 25 years, memories start to fade. The Naugatuck Police Department never wants the memory of Officer Nancy Nichols to diminish.

Nichols was killed in the line of duty on Sunday, March 17, 1991. She was helping a fellow officer with a traffic stop on Route 68 when she was hit by a car. She died shortly after of internal injuries at a hospital.

Nichols, who was 34 years old when she died, was the first female officer in Connecticut to be killed in the line of duty. She is the only Naugatuck officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Naugatuck police commemorated the 25th anniversary of her death with a brief and moving ceremony in front of the police department March 17.

“As time goes by it gets a little bit more distant from when it happen but it’s still part of our history here,” Naugatuck police spokesman Lt. Bryan Cammarata said.

The Naugatuck Police Department honor guard presented colors, and the police union presented a memorial wreath that officers laid beneath the flagpole in front of the department’s headquarters. They held a final radio call before presenting Nichols’ family members with a special coin made to honor her.

“Dying in the line of duty is the ultimate sacrifice, it’s something that has to be remembered by us,” Cammarata said.

The ceremony is one that the department holds every year to honor Nichols’ memory.

Sgt. Colin McAllister, head of the police union, said the union and department brass wanted to memorialize Nichols and that the service helps to bring awareness to the dangers of police service.

“It shows how even something seemingly mundane as a traffic stop can be dangerous,” McAllister said. “It also is a way for us to keep her legacy alive, especially for the newer officers.”

The Republican-American contributed to this article.