LEWISTON — Call it a grudge match with a purpose.

On March 30 at 4:45 p.m. the eighth annual Battle of the Badges hockey game will hit the ice. The undefeated Lewiston Police Department will take on Maine Fire, a team of firefighters desperate for a win.

“They haven’t beat us yet,” Lewiston police officer Jason Johnson said. “We’d like to keep it that way.”

The game is free to attend but donations and raffle proceeds will go to the Officer David Payne Memorial Run and to purchase a granite cross to be placed at the site where officer Paul Simard was killed in the line of duty in 1958.

Johnson has worked for several years to honor his department’s fallen. In 2010, Johnson was a cadre at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. While there representing the Lewiston Police Department, Johnson found a new passion for honoring law enforcement’s fallen brothers and sisters. At each evening meal, the cadre staff and cadets honor any officers killed in the line of duty for that day. A candle is lit at a permanent place setting in the dining room. Then, an account of the officer’s death is read and a moment of silence follows.

“Doing this for a year instilled in me a drive to honor my department’s fallen in a way not yet done,” Johnson said. “I just felt the mission to honor them was not complete.”

Upon returning to the Police Department, Johnson set out on a mission to permanently memorialize the locations where Lewiston’s police officers were killed in the line of duty.

In the summer of 2010, Johnson and 13 other Lewiston officers and a Maine State Police trooper ran from the spot where Officer Payne was killed on the River Road in Lewiston in 1988 to his grave in Auburn seven miles away. This was to lay the foundation for the Officer David Payne Memorial Run.

In July 2012, Johnson, with the assistance of the Police Athletic League and many Lewiston police officers, placed a granite cross at the site where Payne fought for his life and lost.

Now, Johnson’s mission is to place a granite cross where officer Paul Simard was killed in the line of duty in 1958.

“This is a small memorial and sign of respect for an officer who was taken from his family and LPD family so long ago,” Johnson said.

Simard was the first full-time Lewiston police officer killed in the line of duty.

This year’s hockey game will have family skating, a silent auction, raffles and a few prizes. All proceeds will go toward the Officer Simard Granite Cross and to continue the Officer Payne Memoiral Run and Officer Paul Simard Breakfast for 2014 and beyond.

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