March 6 marked exactly one year since Brevard County Deputy Barbara Pill was killed in the line of duty and taken from her family, our agency and community.
The anniversary of Barbara's death is a somber reminder of the many law enforcement officers across our great country, who make the ultimate sacrifice every year.
Last year, 128 law enforcement officers gave their lives to protect their communities and citizens. Of those, 66 were killed in a violent or deliberate attack.
While five of the officers killed last year were from the state of Florida, none strike closer to our hearts than our own Deputy Barbara Pill.
Barbara was fatally shot while trying to apprehend robbery suspects; who, without hesitation, made the decision to take Barbara's life.
Like many of you, I will never forget the call that alerted me to Barbara's death. I will also never forget the last time I saw Barbara, as she was standing with her family and friends at the annual Awards Ceremony for the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.
In the days that followed, many of us would recall our own memories of Barbara, who was an incredible mother, wife, deputy and citizen.
While driving to Barbara's funeral service, I recall bracing myself for a very emotional service: the bagpipes, gun salute, playing of taps, fly over and the finalizing moment when dispatch completed the officer's "out of service" across the radio.
Having attended too many officer's funerals over the years, what I was not prepared for was the sight of businesses along the procession route temporarily closed in honor of Barbara, with the business owners standing and holding signs that expressed touching thoughts and prayers for her family and friends, the schools, with their children standing at attention, with their hands over their hearts, and the many officers, public safety members and military personnel from around the country lined up, showing their honor and respect for a fallen comrade.
Each proudly demonstrating just how special Barbara was to our community and to the citizens she protected each and every day.
While Barbara is the most recent law enforcement officer taken from our community, many others have made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives to protect us.
These Brevard County heroes are Officer Joseph Pellicano, Melbourne Police - 1986, Officer Gerald Johnson, Palm Bay Police Department - 1987, Officer Ronald Grogan, Palm Bay Police Department - 1987, Officer Philip Flagg, Satellite Beach Police Department - 1992, Sgt. Ernest Hartmann, Satellite Beach Police Department - 1992, Officer Stephen House, Titusville Police Department - 1989, Officer Jack Schnell, Titusville Police Department - 1982, Officer George Hanchley, Kennedy Space Center Security Police - 1986, Officer Charles Autry, Cocoa Beach Police Department - 1990, Lt. Roy Blake, Cocoa Police Department - 1954, Trooper Halley Strickland, FHP - 1954, Trooper Joseph Sawtell Jr. - 1966, Lt. Amos Cox, Brevard County Sheriff's Office - 1965, Deputy Robert Nicol, Brevard County Sheriff's Office - 1987, Deputy Ray Warner, Brevard County Sheriff's Office - 1996 and Sgt. Lucille Ross, Brevard County Sheriff's Office - 2004.
We honor these heroes, along with their families, who will forever be remembered for their sacrifices and support.
Each of these officers were proud to put on their uniform each and every day to represent their profession, their families and, most importantly, their communities.
I would ask that you keep these fallen officers and their families in your thoughts and prayers and would like to personally thank each of you for the tremendous support you give to our Brevard County law enforcement and public safety members every day.
Wayne Ivey is the sheriff of Brevard County