On Wednesday, members of Osceola County’s four law enforcement agencies—the St. Cloud Police Department, Kissimmee Police Department, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, and Osceola County Department of Corrections—gathered for their annual ceremony to honor officers who have passed away, both in the line of duty and otherwise. This solemn event serves as a moment of reflection and appreciation for the sacrifices made by these heroes, reaffirming the community’s commitment to remember and honor their service.

Held inside the Kissimmee Civic Center due to inclement weather, the memorial ceremony coincided with Peace Officer Memorial Day on May 15th and National Police Week, both established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. The ceremony emphasized the unity among different law enforcement agencies as they stood together to remember their fallen comrades.

The annual Osceola County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony is deeply significant for both the community and law enforcement agencies. It brings together officers from various departments and offers a platform for the families of fallen officers to receive support from a compassionate Osceola County community.

Chief Yuberky Almonte of the Osceola County Corrections Department opened the ceremony, which was followed by the traditional posting of the colors and the national anthem, sung by Viviana Sosa from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez addressed the attendees and introduced keynote speaker, Kissimmee Police Chief Betty Holland, who then introduced Drew Hazlett, the recipient of Sergeant Sam Howard’s heart. Sergeant Howard was tragically killed in the line of duty in 2017 in Kissimmee.

Following the presentation of wreaths by a multi-agency honor guard, St. Cloud Police Chief Douglas Goerke led the ‘Roll Call of Heroes.’ During this poignant tribute, officers placed a single blue flower on a “Back the Blue” memorial wreath to honor those who lost their lives in the line of duty. Among the attendees were the family members of slain Kissimmee Police Officer Matthew Baxter, including his wife and daughters, who placed a blue flower in his honor. Relatives of Sergeant Richard “Sam” Howard, who was ambushed alongside Officer Baxter on August 18, 2017, also participated in this tribute.

Line of Duty Deaths:

  • Sheriff Levin Reuben Farmer, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office: EOW September 28, 1933
  • Patrolman Thomas Bartholomew, Kissimmee Police Department: EOW July 18, 1983
  • Sergeant Doug Persons, Kissimmee Police Department: EOW April 27, 1993
  • Deputy Troy Cabin, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office: EOW November 12, 1994
  • Detective Mike Ford, St. Cloud Police Department: EOW June 22, 1996
  • Lieutenant Roger Haddock, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office: EOW March 2009
  • Officer Matthew Baxter, Kissimmee Police Department: EOW August 18, 2017
  • Sergeant Richard ‘Sam’ Howard, Kissimmee Police Department: EOW August 18, 2017

The symbolic “10-7 – Last Call” was then broadcasted over a law enforcement radio channel, followed by a 21-gun salute outside the Civic Center. Trumpet players Christina Done and Victoria Ortiz-Nanez from Osceola County School for the Arts performed a reverent rendition of ‘Echo Taps.’

The ceremony concluded with an emotional performance of ‘Amazing Grace’ by bagpipe player Bob Cunningham, followed by a benediction from Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Daniel Rivera. Chief Yuberky Almonte then officially closed the ceremony.

The annual Osceola County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony remains a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by law enforcement officers and provides essential support to their families, reaffirming the strong bond between the community and its protectors.