The annual Police Officer Memorial Ceremony was held Thursday on the north lawn of the Lafayette County Courthouse. Each year, officers from local, state and federal offices gather with citizens to remember those police officers who died in the past year.
The Oxford, Lafayette and University police departments reported no deaths or serious injuries in the past year, as did the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and the Oxford office of the U.S. Marshal.
Sgt. Marvin Baird with the Mississippi Highway Patrol reported no deaths in the line of duty; however, one trooper was shot and seriously injured.
Lafayette County Sheriff Joey East said while his department did not lose anyone in the line of duty in the last year, he wanted to recognize those who were injured – the “almosts; the what could haves, the almost weres.”
East listed off names of past and present deputies who were shot at or seriously injured in the line of duty but who survived.
“I want you to know and remember them,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion.
The ceremony is put on each year by the Lafayette County Law Enforcement Officer Association.
Pastor Fish Robinson opened the ceremony with a prayer, asking God to protect the officers and their families.
“God, we thank you that we live in a great community that supports our law enforcement,” Robinson said. “I pray we not only support them when we need them or when we have to call 911 but that we’d support them when we see them in the community, maybe at a kid’s ball game or in a grocery store or restaurant.”
Guest Speaker Asst. U.S. Attorney Bob Norman spoke on what kind of person becomes a law enforcement officer.
“It’s a profession where character, courage and honesty and concern for others still matter in a world where that doesn’t matter to many, it still matters,” Norman said. “It’s a profession where right and wrong aren’t just words that politicians banter about – they’re principals you live by.”
Maggie Hazelwood sang the national anthem and Connor Adams played taps at the end of the ceremony.
The OPD Mounted Patrol presented a “riderless horse,” representing those officers in the last year who would “ride no more,” after giving their lives in the line of duty. Following, the OPD Honor Guard performed a 21-gun salute.