Central Florida Gathers for the 35th Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony at Orange County Courthouse
The 35th Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony was held on May 4 at the Orange County Courthouse to honor the lives and legacies of the region’s fallen law enforcement officers. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey, District 2 Commissioner Bryan Nelson and District 5 Commissioner Emily Bonilla, as well as community leaders and local law enforcement agencies were in attendance.
The ceremony, held annually in the courtyard of the Orange County Courthouse, paid tribute to those officers who have suffered a serious injury, who died of natural causes and those brave men and women who currently serve the community.
Ceremony attendees included elected officials, dignitaries, community leaders and representatives from 28 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies operating in Orange County. The family members of Orlando Police Department’s (OPD) Lt. Debra Clayton and Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy First Class (DFC) Norman Lewis who died in the line of duty earlier this year, were also in attendance.
“Our community will never forget the sacrifices made by Lt. Clayton and DFC Lewis, and we remain heartbroken for their parents, grandparents, children, sisters, brothers, fellow officers and friends. As we continue to mourn this devastating loss, we must do everything possible to support their families and to forever honor the legacies and the lives of our local heroes who were taken from us much too soon,” Mayor Jacobs said. “One way to honor these and all law enforcement officers is to respect and appreciate their contributions, and to remember that each and every day, the brave men and women of law enforcement leave their homes and families – knowing that they may not return – and risk their lives to keep us safe.”
Hosted by the Fraternal Order of Police, the ceremony began with a memorial parade to the courthouse grounds featuring officers on motorcycles, honor guards, bag pipe players, drummers, uniformed personnel, survivors and guests.
Lt. Clayton, who began her career with OPD in May 1999, worked within the Property Crimes and Crimes Against Children units. She was subsequently promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2007 and supervised sworn officers in the Patrol and Investigative Services Bureaus. She was later promoted to the rank of master sergeant on October 10, 2016. At her memorial service, Orlando Police Chief John Mina posthumously promoted her to the rank of lieutenant.
DFC Norman Lewis was an 11-year Orange County Sheriff’s Office veteran. A former offensive lineman for UCF, his alma mater, DFC Lewis graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office on August 15, 2005. He was an esteemed member of the Motorcycle/DUI unit.
Stories of all the fallen law enforcement officers honored at the ceremony can be found by searching the name of the agency through the non-profit organization, Officer Down Memorial Page.
35th Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony 165 Photos
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