This is a good year for law enforcement in the Pikes Peak region.
There are no new names to add to the wall of fallen officers at this year's annual Peace Officers Memorial. Still, it's a time to honor those who have died serving since 1895.
"So we never forget," Colorado Springs police Lt. David Edmondson said. "It's a place to recognize these people for giving the ultimate sacrifice for their community."
Seventh-grader Sam Hendrix will give the speech this year.
The home-schooled student will read an essay he wrote on law enforcement for a persuasive speech writing class, El Paso County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jackie Kirby said. The selection is unique - former speakers have been CEOs, heads of law enforcement agencies, families of fallen officers and an ER doctor who treated them.
"We're trying to give a different perspective," Kirby said.
As in previous years, a blue balloon will be released in honor of each fallen officer from El Paso and Teller counties - 31 in all, including University of Colorado at Colorado Springs officer Garrett Swasey, who was killed in the 2015 Planned Parenthood shooting.
The service is at 10 a.m. Friday at New Life Church, 11025 Voyager Parkway. It will be followed Saturday by the 10th Annual Valor Run at 9 a.m. at the park, and a Memorial Ball at 6 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel, 5580 Tech Center Drive. Registration for the race is $25. Registration for the ball is $70 per guest, which includes a beer or glass of wine.
Funds raised will go toward building a permanent memorial at the park to honor the city's "heroes." The project has been in the works since 2006 and has raised more than $600,000 toward the goal of $1.25 million, Edmondson said.
Edmondson expects the remaining funds to be raised this year, allowing them to finish the memorial by the 2018 ceremony. Phases two and three of the project will include more fundraising to help the families of fallen officers travel to visit the memorial and to create scholarships for their children, he said.
Although El Paso and Teller counties were spared the loss of officers in 2016, other parts of the state were not.
Three officers were added to the Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial in May, including Mesa County Sheriff's Deputy Derek Geer, Park County Sheriff's Deputy Nathaniel Carrigan and Colorado State Patrol trooper Cody Donahue. A fourth officer, Moses Lovern, of the Pueblo Police Department also was added. He died in 1891 after he accidentally dropped his handgun and it fired.
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