MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) honored Mississippi police officers who died in the line of duty in 2015 as part of National Police Week, May 15-21.
The Cochran and Wicker tributes were offered in advance of the 35th Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol on Sunday morning, according to a news release issued by their offices.
This year, the annual commemoration honors officers who died in the line of duty in 2015, including Mississippi Gaming Commission Director of Investigations John B. Gorman, Warren County Deputy Sheriff Johnny Gatson, Hattiesburg Police Officers Liquori Tate and Benjamin Deen, and Mississippi Department of Corrections Sergeant Iris Smith.
"Law enforcement officers and first responders are on the front lines of many of life's most distressing and heart-wrenching situations. They protect public safety and security, and far too often, pay for our safety with their lives," Cochran said in an issued statement. "We honor their service and extend our gratitude to the families they left behind."
"Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe," Wicker said in an issued statement. "National Police Week presents an opportunity to express our gratitude for their dedication to protecting the public and to pay our respects to the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice."
Sunday's memorial service at the U.S. Capitol is hosted by the Fraternal Order of Police/Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary (FOP/FOPA). The overall national observance is organized by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Concerns of Police Survivors and FOP/FOPA. National Police Officers Memorial Day was first designated in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy.
In preparation for a week of events to honor fallen officers, the names of Gorman, Gatson, Tate, Deen, and Smith were added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial. The newly added names were formally dedicated at a candlelight vigil Friday evening.
The five Mississippi officers were among 123 local, state and federal officers who died in 2015 in the line of duty and whose names were placed on the memorial this year. With the addition of their names, there are now 232 Mississippians listed on the National Law Enforcement Memorial.
Cochran and Wicker are primary cosponsors of the Fallen Heroes Flag Act (S.2755), which has been passed by the Senate and House and awaits the president's signature. This bill authorizes Congress to provide an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol to the families of law enforcement officers and other first responders who are killed in the line of duty.