The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is holding a ceremony Thursday night honoring Southwest Florida’s fallen officers who paid with their lives protecting us.
One of the honored heroes will be Deputy Christopher Taylor, who was killed in a DUI crash on I-75 in late 2022.
This year, the Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Event is particularly challenging for those attending.
Officials from the sheriff’s office told WINK News that families of the fallen officers and deputies will be in attendance on Thursday. And they said the event is about coming together and leaning on one another.
The memorial event has occurred for decades, but nearly six months ago, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office lost Deputy Taylor. Killed in the line of duty, Deputy Taylor was in the middle of a traffic stop with a suspected drunk driver.
Deputy Taylor’s mother told WINK News she struggles daily knowing her son is no longer here. But she said events like the Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Event show her how much love the community has for her and her family.
“I’m feeling very sad but also very proud of my son for what he accomplished in a short time he was here to do that,” Karen Taylor, Deputy Taylor’s mother, said.
“There has been nothing but support,” Karen said. “100% satisfied with everything that CCSO has done for my son, about my son, honoring my son. I think it’s fantastic. He’ll never be forgotten.”
Richard Taylor, Deputy Taylor’s grandfather, and Elisabeth Taylor, Deputy Taylor’s grandmother, also attended the event. WINK News had the chance to speak with them about what the ceremony meant to them.
“he’s in heaven,” Richard said as he began to cry. “He’s in a better place. And I just… I feel sorry for the law enforcement people. I really do… what they have to go through.”
“Christopher has just been a blessing to us. And I thank everybody who does all this for all of the officers and all the people who passed away,” Elisabeth said.
“This year is very important to us. We lost an officer this year back in November. This is meaningful every year. I’ve been a part of law enforcement for quite some time, but this year is especially difficult because we did lose one,” Skip Conroy, the community affairs supervisor for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, said.
Derek Snider, the warden of the Charlotte Correctional Institution, talked with WINK News about why these heroes can never be forgotten.
“You’re going to have time that’s going to go by that’s going to help you heal. But you cannot ever forget the sacrifices that these fallen heroes have put forth… and their family… and the staff. The staff are their family as well, and we all hurt when we have a fallen officer,” Warden Snider said.
The memorial event started at 6 p.m. and ended at 7 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Park in Port Charlotte.
Deputy Taylor’s father was also at the ceremony but didn’t want to speak on camera. But with tears in his eyes, he told WINK News he’s thankful for the love and support from the community.