CRESTVIEW — Mayor David Cadle has proclaimed May 12-18 Law Enforcement Appreciation Week and May 15 Police Officer Memorial Day.


CRESTVIEW — Mayor David Cadle has proclaimed May 12-18 Law Enforcement Appreciation Week and May 15 Police Officer Memorial Day.



However, commemorating fallen law enforcement officers in Crestview began with a Thursday memorial ceremony.



More than 50 uniformed law enforcement officers joined city officials, friends, families and supporters in Warriors Hall.



Officers represented the Crestview Police Department, the Valparaiso and Niceville police departments, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Air Force Police.





Seven vacant seats represented Okaloosa County law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, including, listed by their end of watch:



•Les Wilson, Crestview Police Department, March 15, 1940



•Buster Adams, Crestview Police Department, March 26, 1974



•Kenneth Baldwin, Okaloosa Airport Police, Sept. 11, 1987



•Ray Lynn Barnes, Fish and Wildlife Commission, Nov. 21, 1987



•Anthony Forgione, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, July 22, 2008



•Burton Lopez, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, April 25, 2009



•Warren York, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, Sept. 25, 2009



"The empty chairs you see tonight represent our fallen brethren," Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor said. "They represent the emptiness in our hearts."



Law enforcement officials offer crucial protection, he said.



"They're your last line of defense against those that would take away your life or your family's life," Taylor said.



"To me it was very moving," Junior Police Explorer Caleb Roche, 12, said of the ceremony. He aspires to be a police officer like his father and uncle.



"I have an uncle who died. He laid down his life, and he was a cop,” the Northwood Elementary School fifth-grader said.



Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.