HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Law enforcement agencies in and around the Hub City gathered for the 2016 joint memorial ceremony.
Hattiesburg Police, Forrest County Sheriff's Department, Petal Police, members of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, along with family and friends, packed the Lake Terrace Convention Center for the annual memorial.
"We are here today to give hope to those that run towards danger every day," 10th Chancery Court District Judge Deborah Gambrell said.
Gambrell addressed the crowd after proclamations were presented by Petal, Hattiesburg and Forrest County officials.
The judge referenced the fine line between dark and night, comparing the contrast from good to evil.
"You officers from the Hattiesburg Police Department, sheriff's department, Petal Police, Forrest General Officers that I saw, the constables and all, you know the night, because darkness is the time when evil becomes more comfortable," Gambrell said.
The front rows for the ceremony were filled with family members of fallen officers and some of the 17 that were mentioned during the ceremony.
This is a day I look forward to and dread every year, its real bittersweet, it's amazing how our community gets together to honor our fallen," said Erica Sherrill Owens, daughter of fallen HPD Officer Jackie Dole Sherrill.
One of the first officers killed in the line of duty at the Hattiesburg Police Department was Jessie James Everett, on March 9, 1952. His daughter, Debbie Everett never misses a memorial ceremony.
"As I get older, I start reflecting in a different way, at first it was about my daddy and what I felt, now as the years go on its about all of these other people, the policeman that have ended their watch and those that have not," Debbie Everett said.
Everett said her role now is to look after the ones who have just lost loved ones in the line of duty.
"I fell like my part now is to support Officer Deen and Officer Tate's family because they are just beginning, and it's been 64 years for me," Debbie Everett said.
Members of the Tate and Deen family were on hand for the memorial as well.
"It's a big honor for our son, and for all law enforcement, it shows honor and respect which they deserve," said Mary Ellen Deen, mother of fallen HPD Officer Benjamin Deen.
"It's good to keep them in the memories of the community, they're in our memories and our hearts, but it's good to keep that memory alive," Owens said.
"You are our superheroes, you run to what we run from," Gambrell said. "We will remember those officers, we will not forget them, and we will work to make the world we live in a safer place."