WASHINGTON D.C. -- President Donald Trump addressed thousands of law enforcement officers and fallen officers' families who gathered in the nation's capitol Tuesday to commemorate Peace Officers Memorial Day.
- Several Central Florida agencies in attendance
- President spoke to gathering for 2nd year in a row
- 5 Florida law enforcement officers have died in line of duty so far in 2018
It's a day to pay tribute to federal, state, and local law-enforcement officers who died or were disabled in the line of duty in 2017.
Florida lost several officers:
- Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton
- Orange County Deputy First Class Norm Lewis
- FL Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement Officer Joshua Sanchez Montaad
- FHP Master Sgt. William Bishop
- Escambia County Correctional Officer Joe William Heddy Jr.
- Kissimmee Police Officer Matthew Baxter
- Kissimmeee Police Sgt. Sam Howard
- Florida Corrections Sgt. Joseph Ossman
- Hardee County Deputy Julie Ann England-Bridges
Several Central Florida law enforcement agencies attended the observance.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard took part in the ceremony sponsored by the National Fraternal Order of Police. Their deputies participated in events at different sites and memorials.
Central Florida connections
Orlando Police also brought a large group of officers, who shared photos and videos of the event on social media. OPD Chief John Mina said the department attends every year, but this year is different.
"It's been ten years since we actually put an officer on the wall, so this year means a little bit more."
Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton and Orange County Deputy First Class Norm Lewis’ names are now engraved on the wall of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial -- after both lost their lives in the line of duty.
“To see Debra’s name on the wall, knowing that her name will live on forever kind of gets us through this moment," Mina explained. "I remember the way she connected with our youth. All of our officers knew Deputy Norm Lewis. We’re a tight knit law enforcement in Central Florida.”
Meanwhile, Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O'Dell honored the lives of Sgt. Sam Howard and Officer Matthew Baxter, who both died in August 2017.
"They are both husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and what I’m proud for them is not necessarily how they died, but how they lived,” O'Dell said.
President's words of comfort
Trump spoke to the crowds at the memorial ceremony for the second year in a row.
"To the families and survivors with us this morning, I know today is filled with sadness and pain,” Trump said. “But today is also filled with love -- the love of an entire nation. They love you, they're praying for you, they're grieving with you, and pledging to you that we will never forget our heroes, ever."
Five Florida law enforcement agents have lost their lives in the line of duty so far this year. Earlier on Tuesday, a Jacksonville police officer, Lane Whitaker, died in a car crash.
Also on Tuesday, hundreds of law enforcement officers honored Highlands County Deputy William Gentry at his memorial service. Gentry was killed in the line of duty earlier this month.
In April, two Gilchrist County deputies were shot and killed while getting lunch -- Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey.
And in February, Brevard County Deputy Kevin Stanton was killed in a car crash.
In the last decade, Florida law enforcement agencies have lost 85 members including K9s, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.