AUBURN – A gathering at Bonney Park this morning will give police and others a chance to pay tribute to officers who died in the line of duty.

In particular, the 9 a.m. ceremony will honor the lives and careers of Officers Norman Philbrick and Rodney Bonney, Auburn police officers who died on the job.

In memory of Bonney, who drowned in the Androscoggin River while trying to save a drowning boy 25 years ago, police will introduce their new dive team, which consists of officers trained in water rescue.

On April 6, 1981, Bonney and John Perrino responded to the trestle behind Florian’s on Main Street after a boy fell into the river. Both officers dove in, but the current was too strong.

Perrino was able to swim back to safety. Bonney and the boy drowned. Today at this site, a park has been dedicated to Officer “Rocky” Bonney.

Officer Norman Philbrick died July 7, 1949, while directing traffic around the scene of a major structure fire near Main and Court streets. Two fire engines approached the intersection at the same time and Philbrick was struck by both.

At the brief gathering Thursday, police will lay a wreath and offer a moment of silence in honor of those officers, and the 155 officers who died on duty nationwide in 2005. Auburn Police Officer Nathan Westleigh will play the bagpipes during the ceremony.

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