BRADENTON -- Members of the Manatee County law enforcement community gathered Thursday morning to honor their brothers and sisters who "paid the ultimate sacrifice."
The annual event in front of the Manatee County Courthouse paid special honor to eight members of the law enforcement community in Manatee County who died in the line of duty in years past.
"Law enforcement put themselves in harm's way daily to keep you, me and our families from harm's way," said keynote speaker Gary Tibbetts, special assistant to Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key. "Today we gather for those who put their lives on the line every day."
Tibbetts, who retired from law enforcement in New Hampshire after 25 years of service, also mentioned the Boston Marathon bombings and the role law enforcement played.
"As participants and spectators ran
away, law enforcement and first responders ran towards," Tibbetts said. "We pray for those lives lost, those injured and for justice to move swiftly forward."
Tibbetts experienced, at age 21, the effects of a loss in a department.
"The tragedy of a fallen officer is felt in the entire family of brotherhood and sisterhood," Tibbetts said.
Attendees included law enforcement from various county agencies.
"Once a year, if we can evoke emotion on what law enforcement does, then that's a good thing," Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said.
Memorial honorees included:
Officers Carl Cox and Steve Bennett, Bradenton Police Department;
Sgt. John Baxter and Trooper Jeffrey Young, Florida Highway Patrol;
Constables Shirley Dewey Smith and Barnie Cumbia, and Detective Herbert Grimes, Manatee County; and
Marshal Joe Terry, city of Palmetto.
Maj. Robert Williams called the memorial roll call of the fallen officers as members of a multi-agency honor guard placed a rose before plaques honoring each. A wreath of flowers was also placed in front of the memorial in honor of the officers who died of natural causes in the line of duty.
Following the roll call, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office paid tribute with a 21-gun salute.
The event was presented by Manatee Lodge 70 Fraternal Order of Police.
Many in attendance knew at least one of the those honored.
"I was working and teaching the night Jeff Young was killed," Steube said.
Palmetto Police Chief Rick Wells worked with Young during his time with FHP.
"For me, this is always a special day," Wells said. "I worked with people at this memorial. It's always very emotional."
Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter at @JDeLeon1012.