BRADENTON -- Manatee County's law enforcement community came together Thursday morning to honor officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice: losing their lives in the line of duty.
Law enforcement was joined by members of the community for the annual Manatee County Law Enforcement Memorial Service outside the county courthouse.
"The truth is that law enforcement officers are always on the front line, and so when one is killed in the line of duty, the community reacts as if they themselves have been attacked," said Judge Durand Adams, the event's keynote speaker. "For me, they have."
Adams spoke of when someone crosses the line of civilized behavior, where anything is now possible.
"There can be no rest until that killer is caught and
until they are convicted," Adams said.
Adams harkened back to 1963 when two Los Angeles police officers pulled over two armed convicts for a routine traffic stop, referring to the book "The Onion Field," which chronicled the event. The two were taken hostage to an onion field, where one was shot dead and the other managed to escape.
"Fifty years after the murder on the anniversary of that tragic night, somebody wrote that the echoes of killing a police officer that long ago still resonates in Los Angeles half a century later, and that's because killing a police officer in the line of duty tears through a community like nothing else," Adams said.
Nothing else seems to matter until that killer is caught.
"It's no exaggeration to say without police officers who put their lives on the line every day to enforce the law, our community would look like a lot of other parts of the world, and our lives would be very different," Adams said. "Where the law ends, tyranny begins. Tyranny can be big or small."
The roll call of the fallen officers was called with a presentation of a flower tribute, then followed by a 21-gun salute by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office honor guard.
Thursday's memorial honored:
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 Sheriff's Office.
Marshal Joe Terry, city of Palmetto
For Cynthia Grimes, the memorial was not just about honoring officers lost, but the loss of her husband, Manatee sheriff's Detective Grimes, who was killed in a traffic crash in 1986 while on duty.
"It's very touching to honor those who have fallen," Grimes said.
"Without my faith in God, I would never have made it."
Grimes smiled as she reflected on the man he was, while still mourning his loss.
"I just wish he was here today to see his grandchildren," Grimes said. "He has two grown sons."
Wylen Graham was also present in honor of a lost family member.
"He died about six months after I was born, but he was my grandfather's brother," Graham said.
Graham's uncle was killed when responding to a burglary call.
"I just wish all the school children were here to see this," Graham said.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.