Solemn Ceremony: Law enforcement honors fallen officers, first responders

Law enforcement officers from across Cameron County gathered in a brief ceremony on Friday morning outside the Cameron County Courthouse in honor of fallen peace officers and first responders who lost their lives in the line of duty this year.

Organized by the Cameron County District Attorney’s office, the Peace Officers’ Memorial was slightly different this year as officers took precautions against COVID-19. District Attorney Luis V. Saenz told his colleagues the office considered canceling the ceremony but ultimately decided it was necessary to honor frontline workers who risk their health and safety every day to enforce the law.

“ As you can see, compared to the past years, we don’t have the tent, we don’t have the seating arrangement because we’re trying to comply with social distancing,” he said to a row of around 50 peace officers and law enforcement staff from across the Lower Valley.

He added that although lives have been lost battling the virus, “Something that disease and no one can take from each one of you is what each one of you has in your hearts.”

Officers from Brownsville, Brownsville Independent School District, Harlingen, Los Indios, Port Isabel, Los Fresnos, South Padre Island, San Benito, Special Investigations, Brownsville Fire/Rescue, La Feria, Cameron County Constable’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, K-9 handlers, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection lined up with vehicle lights flashing for a brief salute.

“ I ask that you be with us this morning as we honor our brothers and sisters that gave the ultimate sacrifice with honor and integrity. As we look back and remember them, we thank you,” said CBP Chaplain Eluit Torres as he began a prayer.

His colleague,CBP Public Affairs Liason Elias Rodriguez, performed Taps on a silver trumpet as the crowd entered a moment of silence in honor of the fallen.

Saenz made a point to honor the frontline workers making it possible for law enforcement to operate safely — all the way from healthcare workers to the cleaning staff that disinfects offices at night when employees are safe a home. “All of those folks — we honor their commitment and their service. It’s not lost on us. We have lost many of them,” he said.

History has shown us that it’s the “little people” who need to stand up and lead by example, he said. “That’s what we’re doing here today.”

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com