AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) today honored Texas law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty during the past year, including two Highway Patrol Troopers and one Hutto Police Department officer. Texas State Representative Larry Phillips, the keynote speaker for the service, and various other law enforcement officials and family members of fallen officers attended the memorial ceremony, which was held in conjunction with National Police Week.
Sgt. William “Karl” Keesee, of Brownwood, died in the line of duty on Oct. 29, 2015, as a result of a traffic crash. Trooper Jeffrey Nichols, of Paris, Texas, died in a traffic crash March 26, 2016. In addition, Hutto Police Department Sgt. Christopher Kelley died in the line of duty on June 24, 2015, after being struck by a suspect evading police in a motor vehicle.
“A career in law enforcement carries with it considerable risks and responsibilities, and today we pay our respects to the brave men and women who willingly take on the duties of a peace officer,” said Rep. Larry Phillips. “We are eternally grateful for the fallen officers who have given their all to protect their communities. On behalf of all Texans, we also express our tremendous appreciation to the families who have sacrificed so much for the safety of others.”
Since 1823, 219 officers serving in the Texas Rangers and DPS have died in the line of duty. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, three police officers have died while on duty in Texas this year, and in 2015, there were 12 line-of-duty deaths statewide.
Family members of the fallen DPS officers – including Darla Keesee and Merle Lemond, widow and mother of Sgt. Keesee; and Chrystal Smith and Brian Nichols, sister and brother of Trooper Nichols – placed a memorial wreath during the ceremony.
“We are humbled by the extraordinary men and women who devote their lives to protecting and serving their communities,” said Public Safety Chair Cynthia Leon. “The fallen heroes, families and loved ones we honor today have given so much, and we cannot thank them enough for their sacrifice.”
“With the tragic loss of these three courageous and selfless officers – and all those before them – we are solemnly reminded that there is no greater devotion to duty than to serve and protect others at any and all costs,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Today we pause to show our immense gratitude for their service and supreme sacrifices. And we endeavor to bring some comfort to these heroic families, who have endured so much.”
The DPS service is one of many ceremonies held across the United States to honor fallen law enforcement officers during National Police Week, May 15-21.
For a list and photos of fallen DPS members throughout history, visit the DPS website at www.dps.texas.gov/memorial/. For more information about fallen officers across the state and nation, see www.odmp.org/.
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