By: Lanetra Bennett
May 5, 2014
Tallahassee, FL - Florida's fallen heroes were honored Monday.
The Fraternal Order of Police says it wasn't a time to mourn, but, a time to embrace and comfort those left behind.
About 400 law enforcement officers marched down Monroe Street in Tallahassee Monday morning.
They ended at the Florida Capitol where the Fraternal Order of Police held its 32nd Annual Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial.
It was a ceremony to honor fallen officers in Florida. Seven officers were recognized for this year: four were deputies who died in the line of duty, and three from work-related illnesses or injuries.
During the ceremony, a family member of each fallen officer put a rose on the memorial wreath in their honor.
Tallahassee Police SGT Dale Green was shot and killed while responding to a home invasion robbery in 2002. His mother attends the memorial every year.
Betty Green says, "It makes me feel once again that my son is still alive because people remember him. I thank all of these people. They stand in the sunshine, they march, they do all these things to remember our fallen."
Teresa Shepherd's husband, Byron William Riley, was killed 41 years ago. He was an officer in Hollywood, Florida. He and his partner were killed in a car crash while pursuing purse-snatching suspects on August 30, 1973.
Shepherd says, "He was my hero, my childhood sweetheart, my best friend. We grew up together. I just need to come and honor him every year and help to support all the new survivors that need to know there is a future out there for them."
Gary Ernst says he's grateful that his name isn't among the 771 names engraved on the memorial wall at the Capitol. Ernst was shot three times during a SWAT call-out with the Marion County Sheriff's Office in 1985.
Ernst says, "It just means a lot to me. People just don't realize what law enforcement, what they do. This memorial is just great."
There was a moment of silence for the Florida Highway trooper just killed on Saturday. Authorities say a truck driver ran into 30-year-old Chelsea Richard while she was responding to a crash on 1-75 in Ocala. A tow truck driver and a third person were also killed.
Attorney General Pam Bondi says it's a tragic reminder of how even the most routine call can turn deadly.
Ernst says he knew the truck driver and knew of Trooper Richard. He urges drivers to be more careful while driving and to move over when law enforcement and emergency vehicles are on the side of the road.
News Release: Florida Police Chiefs Association
May 5, 2014
Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) today honored the law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2013, recognizing the sacrifices made to protect Florida’s citizens and communities. The Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony recognized the fallen officers in Tallahassee today.
“Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect our state and our citizens and when tragedy strikes, our hearts are heavy,” said Springfield Police Chief Philip Thorne, President of the FPCA. “We honor the memory of our fallen colleagues and we promise they and their sacrifices will never be forgotten.”
The FPCA also encouraged Florida law enforcement officers to recognize and participate in National Police Week, held the week of May 12, 2014. National Police Week is held annually to honor those individuals who have fallen in the line of duty. The scheduled events attract thousands of officers and personnel to Washington, D.C. each year from departments and agencies throughout the world. This commemoration provides an excellent great opportunity for officers to meet and honor their fallen comrades.
To support National Police Week, Florida law enforcement officers can participate in the Police Unity Tour, a bicycle ride beginning in Portsmouth, Virginia and ending at the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial in Washington, D.C. More than 100 Florida officers will participate in the tour this year.