At precisely 10 a.m., officers fired up the red and blue lights on six police vehicles parked in front of the Denison Police Department Friday morning. A year ago, five Dallas law enforcement officers were killed when a sniper attacked during a protest downtown Dallas.
“This event this morning was to honor and commemorate the officers that were killed in Dallas this time last year,” Denison Police Lt. Mike Eppler said. “We want the families to know we will never forget. We honor them.”
Law enforcement departments across the state performed the same action at the same time to remember these fallen officers. While the local support for law enforcement has always been present, Eppler said he has seen a change across the country caused by this tragedy.
“Nationwide there has been an outpouring of support for law enforcement,” Eppler said. “People just seem like they can’t tell us thank you enough, and it’s so appreciated and very touching.”
Displayed through meals, treats and signs, Eppler said area residents have shown their support for police a lot during the past year. But the Dallas attack also reminded police of how dangerous the job can be. Eppler said police know there’s always a risk when they go out, but the Dallas attack made them more aware of what’s going on around them.
The gathering at the police department in Denison was not the only one held in Grayson County on Friday.
Van Alstyne Police Chief Tim Barnes said a gathering at the county line of officers from some of the smaller departments in the county was thrown together on the phone after he got the message from Gov. Gregg Abbott for all law enforcement in the state to turn on their red and blue lights for one minute on Friday at 10 a.m.
“We are just here to honor the officers down in Dallas, and really all of the officers that have perished in the line of duty,” Barnes said just before the group, including officers from Howe, Tom Bean, Van Alstyne, and the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, lined up on the overpass at the Grayson County’s southern line.
One of the local officers on the overpass Friday was also in Dallas when Micah Xavier Johnson fired upon a group of police officers. Johnson killed five officers and injured nine others and was eventually making his way to a building on the campus of El Centro College where police found him. A standoff ensued and police used a remote control robot to detonate a bomb which killed Johnson.
Tom Bean police officer Zachary Smith was actually in Dallas at the corner of Market and Pacific Streets eating with an El Centro officer when the shooting started. Smith was one of the officers who marked the anniversary on the overpass above U.S. Highway 75 and said he will never forget that day.
“It’ very important that we show that we all stand together and that everyone’s lives matter,” said Smith. He said doing so sets a unified front and shows that police officers are there to serve everyone. He said was eating dinner in a restaurant when he heard what was happening.
“It’s something that I knew would happen eventually, but it’s not something that I thought would happen as close to home,” he added.
He said his heart goes out to the families of the fallen officers and to the police department that they served. “I pray for peace them and comfort and I hope that they know that they are always part of our family.”