JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker offered tributes as part of National Police Week to honor the Mississippi law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. The tributes were offered in advance of the 34th Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol on Friday morning.
This year, the annual commemoration honors officers who died in the line of duty in 2014.
That includes Master Sgt. John Thomas Collum of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Collum died May 9, 2014. The 56-year-old was struck and killed by a vehicle while investigating a report of a prowler. The driver was charged with negligent homicide.
Deputy Sheriff John Robert Street of the George County Sheriff's Department was killed on December 16, 2014. Street's patrol vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree while he was responding to a wreck on Highway 57 North. Street was a four year law enforcement veteran and worked full time for the Lucedale Police Department and part time for the George County Sheriff's Department.He was on duty for the sheriff's department at the time of the fatal accident.
Senator Cochran said "I look forward to a time when there isn't a single lost Mississippi officer to be commemorated during National Police Week. As it is, we know that being a law enforcement officer is a dangerous but necessary profession. The legacy of fallen officers, like Master Sergeant Collum and Deputy Sheriff Street, will deepen the appreciation and admiration we hold for their commitment to duty, honor and courage.
The two Mississippi officers were among 117 local, state and federal officers who died in 2014 in the line of duty and whose names were placed on the memorial this year. The newly added names were formally dedicated at a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening. There are now a total of 20,538 officers honored on the Memorial.
Meanwhile, the murder of two Hattiesburg Police Department officers, Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate, over the Mother's Day weekend lent a special sadness to the Senators' tributes to the 2014 fallen.
Senator Wicker said "National Police Week is a time to honor and thank law enforcement officers for their selfless service. We mourn Mississippi officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty, courageously protecting our communities. Hattiesburg Officers Deen and Tate, Master Sergeant Collum, and Deputy Sheriff Street will not be soon forgotten."
Friday's memorial service at the U.S. Capitol is hosted by the Fraternal Order of Police/Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary (FOP/FOPA).
National Police Officers Memorial Day was first designated in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy.