TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The New Service of Florida) - Hundreds of law-enforcement officers from across Florida gathered Monday at the state Capitol to remember seven of their colleagues who died in the line of duty in 2016, along with three officers who died decades ago.
Bagpipes played "Amazing Grace" while survivors placed roses on a flower-covered memorial to honor loved ones, as each name was read aloud.
The event, hosted by the Fraternal Order of Police, included a 21-gun salute, and helicopters flew above the Capitol courtyard.
Massachusetts State Police Sgt. John Kotfila lost his son, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputy John Kotfila Jr., last year. The deputy was killed in a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver near Tampa in March 2016.
The elder Kotfila said ceremonies like the one held Monday help families heal, while also serving as a morale booster for law enforcement.
"It's a hard day," he said. "It's a bittersweet day. The amount of respect that you are seeing now, it kind of makes it worthwhile being a police officer." Monday's ceremony was the 35th-annual event honoring fallen officers.
So far in 2017, three law-enforcement officers have died in the line of duty. Over the years, nearly 800 police in Florida have died while on the job.