More than 150 friends, family members and law enforcement officials, many in tears, applauded Darla Keesee on Saturday morning as she accepted the firearm that had been holstered to her husband’s belt for more than a decade.

Darla Keesee, accompanied by her daughter Karesa and son Karlton, was officially presented a small black box that contained the SIG Saur P226 pistol from Texas Department of Public Safety Region 5 Commander Gary Albus.

Albus and other guest speakers spoke highly of former DPS Sgt. and local Karl Keesee, who died in a single-vehicle accident last October while in the line of duty. The emotional ceremony outside the Brownwood DPS office ended with the unveiling of a special monument dedicated to the former Brownwood native and Brownwood High School graduate.

“This is a great tribute to a person that dedicated his life and sacrificed to the agency,” said Albus, who noted the presented pistol was first issued to the late Karl Keesee in 2004.

The keepsake is part of the agency’s traditional act that allows the family to be presented a certificate and the pistol of the deceased.

“We want everybody that comes into this building to know that a hero was here,” said Don Metcalf of the “We the People of the State of Texas” monument program, who helped organize adding the one now in front of the Brownwood DPS building. “He’ll always be here to give you an idea of what it takes to be a law officer.”

Karl Keesee, who was 49 at the time of his death, first joined the DPS in 1990. He was the 217th DPS officer to die in the line of duty since 1837, according to the DPS.

Many family members seated in the front were donning black T-shirts that listed every law enforcement member ‘WHO DIED STANDING ON THIS LINE” in 2015.

“It really means a lot. It’s been unreal,” Karlton Keesee said. “Thank you to my dad’s troopers. They’ve been amazing. Thank you family and friends.”

Many who spoke during the ceremony lauded Keesee for his dedication and service to the department.

“We tragically lost one of those great officers,” said Lt. Col. David Baker, Deputy Director of DPS. “Karl was a man of great courage and principle, and he loved his family as well as the community he served. His commitment to protecting the lives of others cost him his very own life.
“His dedication and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”