Hundreds of police officers, families, and state officials gathered in Springfield on Thursday for an annual service honoring officers killed in the line of duty. Officers from the Chicago area and Rockford were memorialized in the service at the Illinois State Library.
After a morning-long procession through Springfield, the main hall of the Illinois State Library was packed with police officers and supporters from around the state. They gathered to pay tribute to six officers killed last year.
State officials offered words of gratitude to those in the force. They included Governor Bruce Rauner and Secretary of State Jesse White.
“There is no more noble profession in America than police officer,” Rauner told the crowd, while White added: “ I perish the thought of what society would be like without you.”
Retired Chicago police detective Robert Hehl was also among those who spoke. He remembered his wife, Illinois State Police Trooper Erin Hehl, who was killed in a police helicopter crash in 1997.
“I share my story with others who have lost loved ones in the line of duty, and especially new survivors, in the hopes that it gives you some degree of comfort in knowing you are not traveling this path alone,” he said.
Speakers at the event also paid respect to the officers who risk their lives everyday reporting for duty.
Families wept as the names of the six officers were read, while an honor guard saluted them with a familiar tune of "Taps."
Statewide police memorial services have been held since the mid-1980s.