In a warm sanctuary Thursday morning, local law enforcement officials honored the heroes who died protecting their communities.
During the Manatee County Law Enforcement Memorial Service at First Baptist Bradenton Church, citizens and officers gathered to remember lives lost and honor those who put on their uniforms every day.
Members of Bradenton and Palmetto police departments, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol spilled into the church's sanctuary, the parking lot outside filled with vehicles from every department mingling with those of citizens and family members of officers who attended the service.
Officers stepped forward to delicately place flowers on a wreath at the front of the church, honoring those who died.
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Addressing a group of cadets in the room, Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells said: "Some of those names that you heard today were friends of many of us in this beautiful church today. They worked with us and we played and we socialized and they were our friends. It's important that you understand that we've had heroes that have served in this community. It was not a job to them, it was not a career, it was a calling and we were blessed to have the opportunity to be around them during this short period of time."
Wells then turned to the families of fallen officers, seated in the front row, and thanked them for sharing their loved ones with the law enforcement community.
"It's a powerful message, I think, to send to this community, that even 30 years hence we remember, we memorialize, we recognize the sacrifices of our law enforcement officers in all the agencies," said Adam Putnam, Florida's agriculture commissioner and a Republican candidate for governor.
Prayers for protection were also offered for those who currently work in law enforcement.
The memorial service is sponsored by the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge during National Police Week.
Fallen officers honored at Law Enforcement Memorial Service
- Marshal Joe Terry, city of Palmetto, Sept. 21, 1897
- Deputy Sheriff Edward Matthews, Manatee County, March 6, 1910
- Constable Barnie A. Cumbia, Manatee County, Feb. 25, 1934
- Officer Steve Bennett, Bradenton Police Department, Feb. 5, 1934
- Constable Shirley Dewey Smith, Manatee County, June 4, 1950
- Officer Carl W. Cox, Bradenton Police Department, Aug. 8, 1970
- Sgt. John C. Baxter, Florida Highway Patrol, Oct. 5, 1985
- Detective Herbert W. Grimes, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Nov. 24, 1986
- Trooper Jeffrey Young, Florida Highway Patrol, Aug. 18, 1987