IMMOKALEE — The Immokalee Boys & Girls Club showed its appreciation and respect for the Seminole Police Department on May 20 by presenting officers with a poster they created commemorating National Police Week.
“We want to thank the police for being there for us,” said Denise Gonzales, 9.
The youth made the poster, added a poem that paid tribute to all law enforcement officers and signed it with heart-felt messages.
“Keep doing your job because you guys are great,” wrote Antonio Billie, 11.
Capt. Victor Madrid and officers based in Immokalee attended the event. Lt. Doug Van Orman gave an overview of National Police Week, which began in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as Police Week.
Each year approximately 140 to 160 law enforcement officers perish in the line of duty, according to the Concerns of Police Survivors, an organization which helps families deal with their loss. Police Week, which is heavily attended by surviving family members and co-workers, honors those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
In 2015, 102 officers were killed in the line of duty, and so far this year 37 have been lost in the U.S., Capt. Madrid said. Their average age is 37 and most are not shot, but die in accidents.
SPD lost one officer in the line of duty; Lt. John K. Healy was killed in an automobile accident in 1986 while driving from Tampa to Hollywood. During a severe storm, he lost control of the car and crashed into a canal where he drowned. Lt. Healy, 35, served with SPD for 14 years.
Lt. Van Orman read a proclamation from Tribal Council declaring May 15-21 Police Week in the Seminole Tribe.
“On behalf of SPD and Chief (William) Latchford, we thank you,” Capt. Madrid told the kids. “It’s good to see the future leaders of the Tribe take the time to commemorate Police Week and honor us.”
Immokalee Council project manager Pete Aguilar agreed.
“Respect goes a long way,” he said. “They do things that we don’t see to protect us and keep the community safe. It’s good to see the youth take the time to pay respect.”
The officers were touched by the ceremony, in which seven kids each read a verse of the poem “Law Enforcement Officers” on the poster.
“Thank you to all Law Officers
It’s a comfort to know you’re there.
That you serve and protect the people
Brings a solace beyond compare,” read Allyson Yzaguirre, 16.