Thirty-seven years later, it's still not easy for Omar Perreira to talk about his father's death.
A customer at a convenience store in Colorado Springs shot police Officer Augustus Perreira in April 1980. The killer was found innocent by reason of insanity and was institutionalized at a state hospital.
Omar said he was only 8 when his father died, but he remembers talking with him about his work.
"That made it important to me," he said about law enforcement.
He was emotional as he watched law enforcement officials and family members participate in a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for the Pikes Peak Region Peace Officers Memorial at Memorial Park.
The event was a milestone in an effort that started in 2006 to raise money to build a permanent memorial to honor the 31 officers from El Paso and Teller counties killed during their service since 1895.
The last fallen officer was Garrett Swasey, an officer at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs who was killed in the 2015 Planned Parenthood clinic shooting.
The memorial will be built between the park's Veterans Memorial and Prospect Lake. Construction starts within a month, and most work will be completed by November, said Colorado Springs police Lt. David Edmondson, chairman of the regional committee overseeing the $1.1 million project.
The entrance will align with a view of Pikes Peak, and the memorial will have a lawn to hold events, trees recognizing donors and a Circle of Honor displaying names of the fallen officers, organizers said. By May 2018, the memorial will boast a bronze lion that "represents the ultimate sacrifice of protectors in our community."
This year's memorial service was held at New Life Church.
"You have a physical representation that we've reached a point that construction is going to begin," said Edmondson. "... it can be overwhelming, and you saw some of that today."
Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder and District Attorney Dan May were the first to ceremoniously break ground with shovels, followed by police chiefs from around the region and family and friends of fallen officers.
"It's important for our community that someday, a 12-year-old little boy, little girl fishing down here at the lake walks up here and sees this stirring memorial, starts reflecting on the bravery, the courage, the humanity, the compassion of the people that gave their lives so that they could fish in this park and feel safe," said May.