Law enforcement officials, their family members and other guests gathered outside the Law Enforcement Center Tuesday morning for a brief ceremony to observe National Police Week.
    The Brownwood Police Department and Brown County Sheriff’s Office hosted the memorial service, which honored the 145 officers — including 19 in Texas — killed in the line of duty last year.
    The ceremony included prayer and the posting of the colors, and Brownwood Police Chief Terry Nichols and Sheriff Vance Hill placed a wreath near the flagpoles of the American and Texas flags.
    Early Police Chief David Mercer read the poem “A Part of America Died,” and James Stroope, chief deputy for enforcement for the sheriff’s office, read the roll call of the Texas officers who lost their lives.
    In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week as National Police Week.
    “It’s a chance for those of us who wear the uniform to come together to recognize and remember and fallen brothers and sisters who shared our calling,” Nichols said. “It’s also a chance for those across the nation to step forward and recognize the sacrifice these men and women have made, as well as the sacrifice these officers here today are willing to make.
    “This is a sacred week for the law enforcement profession.”
    Last year Texas led the nation in the number of law enforcement deaths.
    “We also lost 34 canine partners last year,” Nichols said.
    November was the deadliest month, with 21 officers killed, followed by July, with 20 including the five officers in Dallas who were ambushed by a sniper, Nichols said.
    Last year was also the deadliest month for gunfire deaths involving law enforcement officers since 2011, with 63, the chief said.
    No matter what color uniform officers wear, Nichols said, “they have one thing in common  — they have taken an oath to protect their communities. They are willing to lay down their lives to keep that oath.”