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Peace Officers Memorial Service honors fallen police

The annual Peace Officer Memorial Service was held Thursday inside the Lafayette County Courthouse. Each year, officers from local, state and federal offices gather with citizens to remember those police officers and K9s who died in the past year.

Representatives from the Oxford Police Department, Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department, Mississippi Highway Patrol, the University Police Department, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks all announced they had not lost officers in the line of duty in the past year.

After Perry Arrington sang the national anthem, Mayor Robyn Tannehill and Lafayette County Supervisor Mike Roberts welcomed those attending the service and thanked all the law enforcement officers for their service.

Nationally, Peace Officers Memorial Day is recognized on May 15 and is part of Police Week, an observance that pays tribute to the local, state and federal law enforcement officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty.

Guest speaker, the Rev. David Ard, who is also a retired from the Mississippi Highway Patrol, presented some chilling statistics. In 2017, 128 police officers were killed in the line of duty nationally. Of those, 44 were killed by gunfire.

From January to May this year, 51 officers have been killed with 28 of the deaths caused by a firearm.

“In the same period in 2017, 47 officers were killed,” Ard said. “That’s a 9-percent increase.”

Ard said one of the hardest things for a law enforcement officer has to do is control their temper.

“You’re dealing with someone who violated the law and has a deep, seeded hatred for your badge and says it to your face but you have to remain civil,” Ard said. “But we can be a blessing … when people are in trouble, they are relieved to the see the police show up.”

Closing out the program Thursday was the Oxford Police Department Honor Guard who presented a 21-gun salute, shooting off the courthouse balcony and Lafayette High School student Madison Jenkins playing taps.