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“In the Line of Duty”: Fallen Officers Are Remembered in Annual Ceremony

| May 8, 2013

The Flagler County Sheriff's Office's Calvin Grant at the memorial honoring fallen troops, after laying a red rose by the granite. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s Calvin Grant at the memorial honoring fallen troops, after laying a red rose by the granite. (© FlaglerLive)

“What is the meaning of ‘In the line of duty?’,” Rick Staly,  Flagler County’s undersheriff, said during his brief remarks at the annual commemoration of fallen law enforcement officers at the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office this morning.

“What it means,” Staly continued, “is that an officer made the ultimate sacrifice. It means that someone took an officer’s life, a hero has fallen. Officers who gave their all to protect and serve have been killed by someone whom they swore to protect and serve. It means that their badge will no longer be on their chest, and they will join the best of the best. It means that their family and friends are left behind to deal with the loss of a loved one. Only having the memories of that loved one close to their hearts, something no one can take away. It means that their family members will stand at the officer’s grave and wonder why. Why would someone take an officer’s life and leave them there to die? If we only knew that answer.”

An average of 155 law enforcement officers a year are killed nationwide. So far this year 41 have been killed in the line of duty, 16 of them by gunfire, 15 of them in auto-related incidents. Two have been killed in Florida:  Joseph “Shane” Robbins of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, who died on April 13 in an auto accident. Ad Sgt. Gary Morales of the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office, murdered on Feb. 28 when, while making a traffic stop, the man he was stopping got out of his car and shot him.

They are recognized during National Police Week in June, and locally, a few weeks ahead of that commemoration in Washington, they are recognizeed in a brief ceremony in front of the sheriff’s office’s operations center in May. Aside from numerous elected and appointed officials, the family of Chuck Sease was present today. Sease, then 35, is the last Flagler County law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty. It happened on July 5, 2003, when Sease attempting to deploy stop sticks during a chase and his killer’s car struck him on an I-95 exit ramp in Flagler.

That death took place on Jim Manfre’s watch, who was sheriff at the time, and made note of it today during his speech, his first on such an occasion since being elected sheriff again last November, when he defeated Don Fleming. Fleming was in the audience, his first appearance at a public event since November. “Just here to pay my respects,” Fleming said, adding that in the last few months he;d done “a couple of consulting jobs up north,” but otherwise has remained to himself.

In his remarks, Manfre read the account recalling his childhood’s first memory of an encounter with a law enforcement officer, when a knock at the door was followed by the officer’s announcement that Manfre’s father had been in a serious car wreck because of a drunk driver, but would survive.

“The role of law enforcement has changed dramatically in the 48 years since that Saturday morning,” Manfre said. “It has changed from being a keeper of the peace and traffic control to being a grief, marriage, mental health, alcohol and drug counselor, an accident reconstruction, ballistics, DNA, forensics, hazardous and bomb materials expert, a school, courthouse and inmate security officer, a mentor, educator and recreational adviser to our youth, a member of a SWAT, K-9, bike, boat, animal control, agricultural, narcotics, undercover and detective unit, a first responder and assistant, if required, to medical and fire calls and, in the last ten years, a part of homeland security and anti- terrorist efforts.” He added: “If you have any problem recognizing a law enforcement officer, they are the ones running towards trouble when everyone else is running away.” (The full speech is available here.)

A prayer being offered for the family of Chuck Sease, the last deputy to be killed in the line of duty in Flagler County, in 2004. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

A prayer being offered for the family of Chuck Sease, the last deputy to be killed in the line of duty in Flagler County, in 2004. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

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5 Responses for ““In the Line of Duty”: Fallen Officers Are Remembered in Annual Ceremony”

  1. fla native says:

    What a fitting tribute to the fallen doing their duty. The ultimate sacrifice. Nobody is promised tomorrow. God bless their families.

  2. NortonSmitty says:

    I can sympathize with Sherriff Manfre’s duties at being “a greif counselor”. This is probably due to lack of practice, as the facts show, Officer Seace (RIP) was the first officer in Flagler County to die on the job since 1928!
    Keeping that in mind, here are the top 10 occupations with the highest fatality rates per 100,000 workers:

    fishers and related fishing workers: 116.0
    logging workers: 91.9
    aircraft pilots and flight engineers: 70.6
    farmers and ranchers: 41.4
    mining machine operators: 38.7
    roofers: 32.4
    refuse and recyclable material collectors: 29.8
    driver/sales workers and truck drivers: 21.8
    industrial machinery installation, repair and maintenance workers: 20.3, and
    police and sheriff’s patrol officers: 18.0.

    And about one half of all those Police deaths were from automobile accidents. So I do not mean to denigrate your service or contribution to our society’s safety or show a lack of appreciation for your service, but a lot of men and women die on the job. Roofers, Electricians and others also contribute to society and die on the job at too high a rate. The statistics do not make your service all that special. Why does the Government and media feel the need to push you professional sacrifices as being more worthy than that of any worker? Why the special agenda?

    The job you do should be appreciated. As should all of them.

  3. RNYPD says:

    Kudos to Fleming for coming to pay his respects. At least HE didn’t try to make the day about himself. Those that have paid the ultimate price don’t get many moments in the sun.

  4. JR says:

    ‘Fidelis ad Mortem’
    The phrase means faithful unto death. It also may be translated as faithful til death, or faithful until death. It’s the motto of the New York Police Department, and shows the level of their commitment to their city and its people.

  5. Just a thought says:

    NortonSmitty, No disrespect to all those killed on the jobs you have listed, but none of those jobs are you REQUIRED to risk your life to help others. When people are running away from danger, the men and women of police and fire departments are running towards the danger. And you are right about the car accidents, but it is because they are traveling at higher rates of speed or rushing through congested areas to help some one in need. There is a huge difference between those deaths of the professions you have listed and I am glad we honor those that sacrificed themselves so others will live.

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