Law enforcement agencies and families from across Texas gathered at the State Capitol to remember the service of 18 fallen officers at the Texas Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony.
The officers died in the line of duty in 2017.
“When one of us suffers a loss, we all suffer a loss,” Texas Tech University Chief of Police Kyle Bonath said. Officer Floyd East Jr. was shot and killed by a student who officers took into custody.
Carmen East, his wife, said their family’s goal is to keep his legacy and name alive. Right now, they’re growing their foundation called Texas 635, which was formed in his honor.
“Our main goal is to take care of the officers in Southwest Texas,” she said.
Organizers that helped coordinate the memorial ceremony say they hope gatherings like this remind law enforcement officers and other family members that they have support statewide.
“We always say that we end up being a part of a family that we never wanted to be a part of and a family we never want to leave,” Danielle Story-Stinson, president of the Metroplex Concerns of Police Survivors, said.
Story-Stinson wants them to know they’re not alone.
“There are no barriers,” she said. “We’re all exactly alike in that respect. It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter what agency, spouse, family member or your officer came from. You know you have a family here.”
East says she experienced that outpouring of love and community when her husband died.
“I was never left alone,” she said. “The blue line extends very far.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott met with family members who attended the ceremony. He says the state has taken steps in the last few years to back the blue.
“Texas passed a law making it a hate crime to attack an officer simply because of the badge they wear,” he said. “We also provided our officers with better equipment like rifle resistant vests.”
Story-Stinson says while the memorial ceremony currently takes place every other year, it will likely change to become an annual gathering.