By Alicia Alaniz
Former U.S. Rep. Ted Poe recently retired after a memorable career as a congressman, judge, and prosecutor. But as he prepared to leave office late last year, Poe was thinking about another group of public servants.
Who, he wondered, would take his place as sponsor of his annual police memorial ceremony? Poe had begun the memorial in Humble in 2015 for those unable to attend ceremonies at the National Police Memorial in Washington, D.C., during National Police Week, and he wanted to see the custom continued.
Fortunately, Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle stepped up and agreed to continue the tradition. And on May 13, Cagle opened the ceremonies as sponsor of the 5th Annual Police Memorial Ceremony at the Humble Civic Center.
“Duty, honor and service,” said Cagle. “Not just in words, but it’s how they gave their lives. I am proud of these brave men and women who risk their lives every day, not only to protect our families, but our communities. We live in a day and age when police officers don’t get the respect they deserve.”
Dozens of people gathered with Poe, Cagle and other public officials to commemorate the sacrifice of the 16 Texas peace officers, including four K9s, who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2018.
The ceremony included remarks from Cagle, Poe, U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, Constable Mark Herman, and justices of the peace Lincoln Goodwin and Laryssa Korduba.
Poe used the opportunity to express his pride and compassion for every man and woman who wear the badge every day to protect and serve.
“Officers represent good over evil, do society’s dirty work, and often get criticized,” Poe said. “Police officers are the last strand of wire between the fox and the chickens —between the law and the lawless.”
The first documented murder of a Texas peace officer took place in 1837. Since then, nearly 2,000 Texas peace officers have been killed in the line of duty. Nationally, Texas was among the top four states for police deaths in 2018, along with California, Florida and New York. The number of officer fatalities decreased from 2017, when Texas ranked first in the nation with 14 officer deaths. In the United States, 144 federal, state, and local officers died in 2018 – a nearly 12% increase from the 129 who died in 2017, according to USA Today.
Crenshaw, a naval veteran, told those gathered the memorial that law enforcement and the military share a common bond.
“When they step into the gap, they walk into darkness, day in and day out, knowing that it could be the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “Never forget them, and never forget their families.”
“It’s not just the peace officer that is part of law enforcement,” he said. “It’s the entire family. They wonder every day if their loved one will come back home. But we should not just remember the loss for the people but thank the good Lord for their loved one’s life.”