GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Friday morning, the City of Gulfport honored and remembered its eight police officers who've died in the line of duty since 1900. A large crowd gathered outside the public safety building.
"There is no better way to honor the sacrifice of those who have come before us," said Deputy Chief Chris Loposser. "We gather here today to honor those who did not make it home at the end of their shift."
Eight Gulfport officers have made that ultimate sacrifice. Each was remembered and honored.
"On January 21st 1913, chief of police, Charles Dickey was shot and killed while responding to a burglary in progress," read one of the Gulfport officers.
Police officers read the names and placed roses near the permanent police memorial monument.
Billy Saxton was there for his friend, Wayne Scarborough, a motorcycle officer and Vietnam veteran who died in 1970 at age 22.
"He did his time. He was a young man and one of the best I knew because he was like my little brother," Saxton recalled.
Mayor Billy Hewes was also mindful of those hurting in Hattiesburg.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the Deen and Tate families in Hattiesburg. They won't have a father coming home or a spouse coming home. It is very personal. It is a very direct impact. And it reminds us of what you do, every single day," the mayor told the crowd.
Gulfport's police chief says he'd planned on speaking bitter words about anti-police sentiment.
"For some time, all we have heard and seen is hate and violence toward police," said Chief Leonard Papania.
But he found new resolve and encouragement at Thursday's funeral of Hattiesburg Officer Benjamin Deen.
"The roads were lined with citizens, standing at attention, waving flags and saluting. Thousands of 'em. They had taken time out of their lives to honor one of ours," said Chief Papania.
Such support is also evident as Gulfport honors its fallen officers.
"Stand by as we pay tribute to our fallen officers," came the transmission over the loud police radio. "We admire their bravery and service and will always remember the ultimate sacrifices they made," said the dispatcher.
The most recent Gulfport officer killed in the line of duty was Robert Curry, who died in 2008 when a car struck his police motorcycle. Gulfport's public safety building is named in his honor.