DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - Over 40 fallen officers from 19 Wiregrass law enforcement agencies were remembered at the City of Dothan's police memorial service Wednesday. The courtroom, where the ceremony was held, was filled with officers, deputies, investigators and community members.
"I appreciate what they do and those who have lost their lives," said Patricia Jones, law enforcement supporter. "My heart goes out to those, because I lost my mother to murder and I know that these families and even the ones that work with these that lost their lives what they go through."
Retired Jackson County, Florida, Sheriff John McDaniel was invited to speak at the ceremony. McDaniel has lived through several tragedies. Fellow officers at his department and family members were killed during his career.
"Wives, mothers, children, communities all gave too," McDaniel said.
McDaniel's father was murdered right before he was elected as sheriff, and his wife was murdered before retiring.
"It's one thing for a police officer to lay down their life for their community. It's another thing when your family is taken away from you and in part of this is because of the job that he did," said Dothan Chief of Police Steven Parrish
The law enforcement community is very dear to McDaniel. After witnessing such violence against police, he hopes for better relationships and trust between law enforcement and the community. He would also like to see new policies, new procedures and thorough background screenings when hiring officers.
"I'm worried about where we're headed in America today. That's why we need to go back and slow down a little bit and make sure we get all the proper tools, the proper officers and give the communities a better representation of who we are and what we are," McDaniel said.
Dothan Police Captain, Bubba Ott, said working in law enforcement over the last few years has been tough.
"It's been extremely hard to be a police officer with a lack of support on a national level and seeping down into the local level. These officers are not perfect, but everyday they make a decision to put on their uniform and go to work to serve and protect others," Ott said.
A law enforcement retiree luncheon will be held at the Houston county farm center to continue national police week Thursday morning.
Ozark Police department will have its police memorial ceremony at Carrol High School Thursday at 10 a.m.