They stood row after row, blue uniforms and silver or gold badges reflecting the eternal flame nearby atop the Fallen Officers Memorial Wall outside the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
As police horse Duke was led by, his saddle empty, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office remembered the 64 officers who died in the line of duty over the past 183 years, joined by families and friends of some of the more recently lost.
For only the second time in the agency’s history, the Sheriff’s Office memorial service was held at night at the memorial on A. Philip Randolph Boulevard. The ceremony included a candlelight vigil.
“It is always an emotional night remembering those who lost their lives in the line of duty,” Mayor Lenny Curry said at the memorial. “Tonight, during the Police Memorial Day service, we honor the officers on this wall, and we honor every officer out on the street working to make our city safer.”
The 10-foot-high wall, flanked by bronze statues of officers that includes one placing a rose on a blue line that encircles it, was envisioned by Eagle Scout Adam Resch and built in 2017. The first name on it is that of Town Marshal John Yoman, killed in 1840.
No new names were added Monday night, although two were installed on the wall in 2022.
Police Auxiliary Sgt. Louis “Lou” Livatino, 71, died in January 2021 after complications caused by the COVID-19 virus that he contracted in the line of duty, police said. He was preceded by Lt. Chris Cunningham, 48, a 22-year Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office veteran who was the commanding officer of the Crime Scene Unit, latent prints and the photo lab. He died Aug. 5 from COVID-19 as well.
Assistant Chief Jimmy Judge died in January after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but it was not a line of duty death, police said.