BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham police officers are honoring their fallen brothers and sisters in blue Tuesday.
The Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony started Tuesday morning behind Birmingham City Hall and ended with a wreath laying at Linn Park.
The men and women of the Birmingham Police Department gathered with heavy hearts and with black bands across their badges.
The memorial’s timing is nothing if not powerful; Keary Hollis, a 5 ½ year veteran of the Birmingham Police Department was killed over the weekend. Tuesday’s event comes before his fellow officers have had a week to grieve.
“We gather this morning to remember the members of this department who have given their lives in service to our citizens,” said Chief A.C. Roper. “Fifty-one names representing 51 families, their hopes and their dreams. We gather today to honor and remember them.”
Names of Birmingham police officers killed since 1900 were read aloud at the memorial. The four most recent names on the list belong to West Precinct officers, which includes the three who were gunned down in Ensley in 2004 and Hollis.
“This past weekend we were reminded that evil is alive and well,” said Mayor William Bell, “and that in order to have a civilization that would thrive and grow, you must have order.”
Bell and Roper laid a wreath to honor the fallen officers and then reflected on the impact of the most recent loss – on the city, the department and, most of all, Hollis’ family.
“I had an opportunity to visit with them at length yesterday, and they’re strong, but their hearts are hurting,” Roper said. “We’re going to be there for them. And as we tell all of our new officers when they join this police department, their families also join this police department. And we’ll make sure they have everything they need to make it through this period.”
The FBI released statistics Monday that show the number of officers killed intentionally in 2012 was almost cut in half in 2013.
Roper tells WIAT 42 News Birmingham takes part in a national program called Below 100, which focuses on tactics, training and precautions meant to keep that number as low as possible.
Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News