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  • State ceremony pays tribute to law officers killed on duty
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    State ceremony pays tribute to law officers killed on duty

    A ceremony at the Capitol recognizes four officers who died in 2000 and two others who died in past years.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 8, 2001

    TALLAHASSEE -- The families of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty met Monday in a solemn ceremony at the Capitol. Some held the arms of uniformed escorts. Others pushed the strollers of children who are now without fathers or mothers.

    [AP photo]
    Members of the Jacksonville Police Department honor guard are reflected in the polished floor of the Capitol on Monday after a memorial march down Monroe Street.
    Gov. Jeb Bush called the ceremony and the need to honor fallen police officers "one of the most humbling things I do as governor."

    "There is nothing government can do, we can't pass a law or form a committee, without calling on the men and women who serve us in law enforcement," Bush said.

    He noted the Legislature's decision last week to restore the lost pension benefits to police and firefighters and praised lawmakers' continuing effort to make the people who commit crimes pay.

    This year's ceremony honored:

    Orlando police Officer George Stejan DeSalvia, who was shot and killed Feb. 3, 2000, during a traffic stop.

    Tanja Brigitte King, who died May 18, 2000, when her car hit a traffic pole while she was responding to a call for help from two officers fighting with a drug suspect. She had been a pallbearer for DeSalvia three months earlier.

    Osceola County sheriff's Deputy James R. Haddock, who died March 12, 2000, when a horse fell on him.

    William Harris Williams, a Miami police officer who died July 3, 2000, when a car hit the motorcycle he was driving during a funeral procession.

    Two other dead officers who had not been added to the state's police honor roll in the past were also honored. They were Roscoe H. Hargett, an officer with the state Division of Alcohol, Beverage and Tobacco who died Sept. 23, 1955, and corrections Officer Allen S. Bernstein, who died Aug. 18, 1993.

    Hargett, who was appointed during the administration of Gov. LeRoy Collins, was one of the state's first black beverage agents. He was shot and killed in an ambush during a raid on a moonshine still near Gainesville. His killer, the wife of a still owner, served 12 months in the county jail, according to A.J. Smith, chief of the beverage agency's criminal division.

    Bernstein was killed in a traffic accident while making a predawn call to Tomoka Correctional Institution.

    The families of the dead officers along with uniformed officers from their departments marched down Monroe Street to the Capitol in a parade of uniforms from departments throughout the state. A bagpipe played in the background. The parade included officers on foot, motorcycle, bicycle and horseback.

    It ended in the courtyard between the historic Old Capitol and the new Capitol where the ceremony occurred. Officials from the Fraternal Order of Police gave each family a medal of valor and a display that included a photo, the officer's badge and name tag.

    Bush met with families privately in his office after the ceremony.

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    From the Times state desk