“For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:4)
Today, we gather in memory of those who have fallen while protecting our community and our great nation. We gather to pay tribute to law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
We gather as witnesses when words like “courage” and ‘sacrifice” no longer are just words but instead hardened realities that leave a lifetime loss on families and a permanent mark on our communities. We gather to honor the fallen and to publicly acknowledge their last full measure of devotion.
There are many ways we recognize the value of public safety in our community. We see deputy cars on patrol and know that an officer is inside…and we slow down. We see officers escorting dangerous criminals from the comforts of our homes on the evening news. We drive down 441 or S.R. 70 and see the many businesses being protected…and we can still go home and sleep peacefully at night.
As I said, there are many ways we recognize the presence of law enforcement. But this is where we acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice – the unanticipated and unwelcomed End of Watch.
Okeechobee County has seen our share of these losses, and a grateful community is one that never forgets. Deputy Glover “Skipper: Bryant III in November 1991. We miss & love you.
Across the country, there was 616 line of duty death in 2021. 438 of those were due to COVID. Our men and woman were on the front lines, still responding to calls and removing the criminal element from our communities while the world was shut down. 62 officers died by gunfire, and 61 were killed by vehicular assault. The State of Florida had 55 officers killed in the line of duty in 2021.
This society is based on the consent of the governed, the rule of law, and the God given rights of individuals. These often are threatened by some people who scheme to exploit the innocent and to commit violence on the weak. Even though we live in an era that is being defined by the iPad, Facebook and Netflix, we still have the majority of us who prefer a more primitive era defined by the club, the stick and the spear. They will always be with us.
That is why we need men and women who choose the career of law enforcement, and who choose to be deputies. We need law enforcement to stand in the breach and keep our community safe.
So we gather today to comfort the family and friends of the fallen, to memorialize their sacrifice, and to publicly acknowledge that they will never be forgotten.
I am both honored and humbled to be standing before you today. I am even more blessed to be the leader of the wonderful men and women of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office who faithfully serve and protect our community each and every day.
“Greater love has nor one than this, that someone lay down his life of his friends.” (John 15:13)
Thank you for coming this morning and taking the time!