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Honoring fallen heroes

By JONATHAN ABEL
Published May 10, 2007


LARGO

In a small garden in the shadow of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, more than 100 law enforcement officers gathered Wednesday to honor colleagues killed in the line of duty.

The American flag flew at half-staff, bagpipers played Amazing Grace and a 21-gun salute shook the sky.

But the focal point of the ceremony was a stone in the garden engraved with the names of 20 fallen officers, starting with St. Petersburg's James Mitchell in 1905 and ending with Belleair's Jeffery Tackett in 1993.

"We are fortunate, " Sheriff Jim Coats said, "because here at this time we have no names to add."

Nationwide, more than 150 officers a year are killed in car crashes, shootings or other tragedies on the job.

"Every officer who's died in the line of duty is a true hero, " said Bob Butterworth, Florida Department of Children and Families secretary and former attorney general and Broward County sheriff.

"You are society's security blanket, " Butterworth said. "But who protects you?"

By the numbers

63 Officers killed nationwide in 2007

4 Officers killed in Florida in 2007

20 Officers killed in Pinellas County since 1905

0 Officers killed in Pinellas County since 1993

If you go

Memorial service

The Clearwater Police Department will hold its memorial service at 10 a.m. Friday at Bright House Networks Field at U.S. 19 and Drew Street.