By Alyssa Schnugg
Each year, officers from local, state and federal offices gather with citizens to remember those police officers who died in the past year.
The annual Peace Officer Memorial Service was held Thursday on the lawn of the Lafayette County Courthouse.
Representatives from the Oxford Police Department, Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department, the University Police Department, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks all announced they had not lost officers in the line of duty in the past year.
However, the nation lost 362 federal officers in the last 12 months with 234 of the deaths being caused by COVID-19.
Nationally, Peace Officers Memorial Day is recognized on May 15 and is part of Police Week, an observance that pays tribute to the local, state and federal law enforcement officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty.
Guest speaker, Circuit Court Judge Kent Smith talked about the words “protect and serve,” that is seen on logos, patrol cars, badges and training manuals.
“The essence of what our law enforcement officers do is they protect and serve,” he said. “I can assure you; it is much more than a logo. It’s a mission. To the officers here today, you serve with pride, you serve with honor and you serve with integrity.”
Smith talked of the many sacrifices law officers make on a daily basis, including not being able to spend time with family on holidays, financial sacrifices and in some cases, they pay the ultimate sacrifice.
“Law enforcement officers have an important job,” Smith said. “They have a dangerous job and they have a job that they do to try to make our communities better – a better place to live and a better place to raise our families.”
Pastor Fish Robinson opened the ceremony with a prayer for law enforcement and their families.
“Today God we pause to be reminded that there is a calling to go into the law enforcement field and every man and women who wears the badge takes that with great honor,” Robinson prayed. “It’s not just the officer that is called to this responsibility to serve this community but their entire family.”
Closing out the program Thursday was the Oxford Police Department Honor Guard who presented a 21-gun salute.
The OPD Mounted Patrol attended the event on horseback along with one “riderless horse” to pay tribute to officers who died and left their mount behind.
Lafayette High student Clinton Summerford played taps and the Lafayette County High School Choir performed the national anthem.