It’s National Police Week in Washington DC, where tens of thousands of people are honoring fallen law enforcement officers, including Rockford Police Officer Jaimie Cox, who was killed Nov. 5, 2017 in the line of duty.
On Sunday, the first major event for police week brought 20,000 people to the National Mall for a candlelight vigil. It was there that a delegation of Rockford Police Department Officers remembered their brother in blue.
Survivors, ones who have lost a child, a spouse or a parent in the line of duty, arrived by bus, where they were greeted by honor guards from across the country, including the Rockford honor guard.
"I’m remembering his smile, I’m remembering the good person that that he was," said Lt. Joel Givens, who has been on Rockford’s honor guard for nearly two decades.
Rockford’s honor guard came armed with roses to give to the family members of their fallen comrade, including Officer Cox’s widow, Caitlin.
"She’s tough as nails," Chief Dan O’Shea said. "She’s holding together pretty well, but it’s tough on her. It really wears her down."
The Rockford Police Department does its best to help her, welcoming her in to their family over the past 6 months and staying by her side every moment of the weekend.
"We’ll be there for her for the rest of her life," O’Shea said.
After departing a charter bus, Caitlin Cox and other members of the Cox family made their way inside the vigil, where they were joined by hundreds of other survivors for the ceremony. Music filled the air as candles lit up the night sky. Even outside of the ceremony, people held the their flames high in honor of officers.
Names of each officer killed in the line of duty in 2017 were read aloud. Marked by the tolling of a bell, seven names were called when Illinois was announced.
"We’d be foolish to think that we’ll never lose another officer, it’s unfortunately a part of the job. Hopefully not for a long time," O’Shea said.
Right now, his focus turns on healing for Cox’s family and the department he leaves. Officer Cox is the first and only officer Chief O’Shea has lost during his time with the department. It’s a pain he says he’ll continue to grieve over, long after the flames are out.
"He’s one of mine. I mean, I’ll never forget him."