Law enforcement agencies are honoring fallen officers in this year’s annual memorial service in Tallahassee.
It’s Monday morning. The Capitol courtyard is packed with officers standing in neatly ordered rows flanking an audience of fallen officers’ family members.
“We want to thank all of you for taking time to be with us today as we honor respect and remember our fallen heroes.” Fraternal Order of Police President James Preston tells the crowd.
The program is honoring three officers who lost their lives in the line of duty last year: ATF agent William Sheldon, Ocala Police Officer Jared Forsyth, and Okaloosa Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Myers. The event highlighted a number of other officers as well.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum issues a proclamation naming May 11-17 Law Enforcement Memorial week. “And [I] encourage all citizens to recognize the significant loss suffered to the wellbeing of their communities with each of these tragedies,” Gillum says.
During the service, family members place a rose in a map of Florida map to represent their lost loved ones. Officer Forsyth died from an accidental gun shot while he and his colleagues were cleaning their weapons at a gun range. Deputy Myers was shot and killed after serving papers in a domestic violence case. Special Agent Sheldon developed cancer from participating in rescue and recovery efforts after 9/11.
Across town, the Florida Sheriff’s Association is holding an afternoon memorial of its own, also in honor of Deputy Myers. Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley is the keynote speaker.
“It’s a great burden that we bear in law enforcement but it’s one that we willingly bear,” he says.
“We should all be so blessed to live a life like these that we honor today who have touched so many,” Ashley goes on. “The secret of life is the sure knowledge of death. Because without death man would not strive to bear his mark upon this earth it’s because we know we only have [a limited] amount of time that we continue this struggle.”
Deputy Myers’ name will be added to the FSA’s memorial wall.