Tuesday is Peace Officers Memorial Day across the country, a chance to honor local state and federal officers who have died or been disabled in the line of duty. Rockford’s Officer Jaimie Cox was honored at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C. by President Donald Trump and other officials who gathered to honor the fallen.
“They made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live in safety and peace,” President Trump said at the televised event this morning.
Many of those in attendance now have peers and family silently represented on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall. More than 21,000 officers have been killed in the line of duty since the late 18th century when record keeping began, and there were 129 in 2017 alone.
Greg Miller of the Illinois State Police was in attendance today and said, “It’s just and amazing opportunity to get to see this and see this many officers coming out and banding together to show support for the fallen that have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.”
During his speech, President Trump spoke in favor of the strictest penalty for criminals who kill police officers, saying they should be sentenced to death.
Here in the Stateline, police departments and community members are remembering Officer Cox’s sacrifice in their own way.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” said Rep John Cabello (R-Machesney Park). “It’s one more piece of a healing process.”
Cabello attended the memorial in Washington D.C. for the first time today. “It’s very humbling,” he said of the experience.
Residents back home have paid tribute to Officer Cox by wrapping blue ribbons around trees and flying black and white American flags adorned with a blue stripe, representing the Thin Blue Line of law enforcement.
“Everyone has been tremendously awesome about showing support,” said Lisa Hodges, a member of the Northern Illinois Honor Guard. “And I will say that, yes, after Jaimie, did it bring it more to the forefront of people’s minds about it again.”
The South Beloit Police Department is handing out blue ribbons for free. It’s says C.O.P.S — which stands for Concerns of Police Survivors, a national organization that honors the ultimate sacrifice that officers make in the line of duty.
South Beloit Police Chief Patrick Hoey said, “People in the community support law enforcement but this, just again, brings the recognition home for the very tough job that we have that, unfortunately, can cause an officer to lose his life serving his community.”
Hoey’s officers watched over Cox’s widow’s home while she attended the ceremony in Washington D.C. He also said he was proud that the community continues to honor Cox and his fellow officers, six months after his tragic death.
“We saw so much support in the community, with people turning on blue lights and we still, as I drive around the city of South Beloit, I see a lot of homes displaying the blue lights and blue ribbons.”
Chief O’Shea says representatives with the Rockford Police Department will continue to attend the memorial in D.C. every year, moving forward.