HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) — Under the hot son amid the hum of bag pipes playing, roughly 100 police officers, survivors, and community members gathered on Friday to remember Hollywood police officers who died in the line of duty.
Acting Police Chief Jeff Devlin took to the podium to reflect on a rough 2021 for his department.
READ MORE: Rescuers Searching For Survivors After Massive Explosion Destroys Hotel In Havana, Cuba
“The last year was filled with grief for our department, but we have learned in the most somber times we come together,” said Chief Devlin.
The Hollywood Police Department lost three officers last year.
Officer Jon Cooke lost his battle to COVID in July of 2021.
Officer Yandy Chirino struggled with an armed teen suspect in October of 2021. He tried to take him into custody, but was ultimately shot and killed.
The family of Officer Alex Del Rio was in attendance. Del Rio was killed in a crash in 2008. Amid hugs and well wishes his mother described her son, simply, as brave.
“The night we lost him, he was out there protecting us. He was pursuing a speeding vehicle that could have killed a few people. So he lost his life,” said Myriam Fernandez Spalla. “He saved many lives that day.”
READ MORE: Ex-Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Named New Top Cop In Opa-Locka
Brave were six other officers in the departments history who made their last call.
Each name read, their stories given, and flowers laid by their permanent memorials.
The riderless horse with boots backward in the stirrups symbolizing an officer leaving behind his brethren, rode across the courtyard.
It’s important moment at these memorials.
“It means everything not only for the men and women who put on the uniform, but their families, their survivors. It’s what’s it’s all about. Carrying on their memory and their legacy,” said Chief Devlin.
The message to the community is focused, sharp, and runs as deep as the fraternity behind the shield. It’s echoed by law enforcement and surviving families alike.
“I just think it’s a good reminder for the community that police officers, what they do on a day in day out basis regardless what someone thinks of police officers, their encounters or what they may have heard,” said Chief Devlin. “You call 911 in your worst time and these men and women are coming, coming fast without hesitation.”
MORE NEWS: Mother’s Day Spending Expected To Reach Record $31.7 Billion This Year
Spalla said, “We need them. We need them to protect to protect us and continue being here for us. It’s very hard for the community to be without police officers.”