Sheriff urges respect for legacy of the fallen

May. 03, 2013 @ 07:46 PM

Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews kept his voice at a steady pitch during a memorial service for fallen officers – until he got to the part about family members left behind.

That’s when he hesitated, fighting back tears.

“I fear the words I say might be inadequate,” Andrews said. “I have not lost a son, a daughter or a spouse. I have never sat alone and asked God: ‘Why?’ ”

Andrews and other speakers paid tribute Friday to law enforcement officers from Durham and other parts of North Carolina who died in the line of duty during the past 100 years. The service, held at Grey Stone Baptist Church on Hillsborough Road, included the mournful strains of a bagpipe and a 21-gun salute.

Citing the Gospel of John, Andrews said: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Andrews said officers who died in the line of duty made the ultimate sacrifice so that those who remain can enjoy life and liberty.

“To the families here, we will never forget,” Andrews said. “We will make sure that the names and ideals of your husbands, wives, fathers, son, daughters, brothers and sisters will live in our hearts and minds.”

Looking to the pews filled with those in uniform, Andrews said he appreciated officers’ dedication.

“I thank you for upholding justice and the rule of law,” he said. “I thank you for the strong commitment to safeguard all that is good and just in society.”

Andrews said “we must continue to fight against all forms of crime. We must continue to strengthen sentencing guidelines to keep dangerous offenders off the street.”

He said the goal of law enforcement is to serve the American Dream, “to protect us from terrorism and violent crime by ridding us of illegal drugs, cybercrimes such as child pornography, and by guarding our civil rights.”

“Just a few weeks ago, we heard the words: ‘Officer down’,” Andrews said, referring to the February shooting of N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Potts during a traffic stop in Durham. “Many of you in this room responded to that scene, and worked throughout the night to apprehend a suspect who had injured one of our own. And by the grace of the Supreme Being, the officer survived.”

Andrews also alluded to the recent Boston Marathon bombings and asked: “What makes us run toward danger or an emergency?”

“I believe that those who wear the badge did not choose law enforcement – it chose them,” he said. “The officers we pay tribute today had that same calling.”

“We will never forget our fallen friends, though we must carry on, and pass the torch to those who come behind us,” Andrews said. “We must remember those who have fallen, and let their legacy make us better each day, so that their sacrifice won’t be in vain.”