TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Across the nation in 2018, 163 police officers made the ultimate sacrifice.
Hundreds of first responders marched onto the capitol Monday to remember the 11 Florida officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2018.
“You're taking an oath and dedicating yourselves to serving and protecting others, even at the expense of your own safety and indeed your own life,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Sgt. Carla Kmiotek was one of the first officers on the scene at the Parkland shooting. It was the sacrifice of her own father that inspired her law enforcement career.
“To the families that are here, know that you have an extended family. We're part of an unfortunate but honorable bond,” said Kmiotek.
Families of fallen officers placed a red rose on memorial made of white roses in the shape of the state. Each flower symbolized the one they lost.
The names of officers who lost their lives last year are now inscribed on the Law Enforcement Memorial. They join the names of more than 800 fallen officers already engraved on the memorial.
A volley of three broke the silence before a rendition of Amazing Grace filled the courtyard, played by weeping bag pipes.
Attorney General Ashley Moody says holding the ceremony on the last week of the legislative session serves as an important reminder to lawmakers.
“Laws are being ironed out and people are coming together and trying to do what's best for the state of Florida,” said Moody. “But if you think about it, if we did not have the men and women that are willing to step up and enforce those laws they would just be words on a paper."
Last year, the Legislature approved PTSD coverage for first responders.
This year, stiffer penalties for killing police K-9s was signed into law.