DADE CITY – Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Brian Brown capsulized the moment in his invocation of thanksgiving for lives sacrificed.
“We honor the memory of these great men – our heroes,” Brown’s prayer began. “Men who stood for righteousness and truth. Men who served with courage and character. Men who we remember and honor.”
The occasion was the 2019 Pasco Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service held on the grounds of the Dade City Historic Courthouse held May 10.
Formally dressed uniformed officers from several agencies crowded the courthouse plaza and gave their salutes, both physical and spiritual.
The special service was started in 2005 and PCSO Public Information Officer Kevin Doll, who served as the morning’s master of ceremonies, said the historic courthouse has been the perfect setting for the memorial event.
“It was here where more than 100,000 people gathered in 1922, along with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, for the funeral services of two law enforcement officers we honor today, [Prohibition Agent] John Van Waters and [Pasco Constable] Arthur Crenshaw,” Doll said.
The two officers were ambushed as they returned from an investigation northeast of Dade City.
Three area notables were on the program to offer their honors to the fallen and those who still serve.
Dade City Police Chief James Waters said he wanted to thank the most valuable of V.I.Ps in attendance – the families of the law enforcement officers being recognized.
“We often hear the qualities and characteristics that our law enforcement heroes possess,” Waters said. “There are many adjectives used to describe those that volunteer to place themselves in harm’s way. It is difficult to narrow this list when we are talking about our heroes – our men and women in blue, and green, and khakis, and suits and ties. Words always seem inadequate.”
Waters said those in charge of the law enforcement agencies “promise as chiefs and sheriffs we will do everything we can to safeguard the men and women who protect our society’s way of life.”
“We will provide them with the training, the tools and the equipment to keep their bodies and their minds safe from the hazards of the jobs,” he said. “We make this pledge to do all these things and more.”
“We promise if we are not able to give them back safely to their families, we promise to never forget them or their sacrifice,” Waters said.
Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said when the uniforms are worn “we are no longer looked upon as an individual.”
“We are part of a collective alliance of approximately 700,000 to one million people who work for a law enforcement agency across the country,” Nocco said. “When people hold up signs saying they want to kill officers, that affects all of us. When people post nasty things about law enforcement without knowing all the facts, that affects all of us. When a law enforcement member is killed in the line of duty, that affects all of us.”
“Make no mistake about it, we are all in this together,” he added.
State Rep. Ardian Zika, R-Land O’ Lakes, said the attendance at the memorial “sends a glorious message to the families of our fallen heroes that we stand with them.”
“It sends an encouraging message to our law enforcement community that we stand with you and sends a loud and clear message we will always stand with the law enforcement community,” Zika said.
The six other officers who were killed in the line of duty within Pasco County were:
• Hernando County Deputy John Mecklenburg, 2011.
• Pasco Sheriff’s Lt. Charles “Bo” Harrison, 2003.
• FHP Trooper “Brad” Crooks, 1998.
• Pasco Deputy “Bert” McCabe, 1949.
• Pasco Deputy Henry O’Berry, 1926.
• Pasco Deputy Sheriff Sheldon “Shelly” Nicks, 1909.