Never forgotten: Honoring local officers killed in the Line of Duty

Posted at 9:15 AM, May 15, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The path of a law enforcement officer is a mighty one. It's making the decision everyday to put the safety of others above your own.

Joining the men and women who gear up, day after day, in a perfectly pressed uniform over-top of a bulletproof vest isn't for the faint of heart.

"You get up every day, you put the same uniform on but you never know what call you're going to answer. You're not gonna know who you're going to come into contact with and how the outcome is going to be," said Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew.

Some pay the ultimate sacrifice, becoming members in a club that no one wants to be apart of; dying in the Line of Duty. According to the FBI, from January to April of this year, about three dozen officers were killed in the Line of Duty.

Every year, from May 10 to May 16 the United States honors those killed and remembers their names during National Police Week.

This year has significant meaning in Newport News after the death of Officer Katie Thyne. The Navy veteran and mother to a toddler had been with the department since 2018. Officer Thyne died from her injuries after being dragged during a traffic stop in Newport News on January 23.

Chief Drew said she was the first female officer killed in the department and the heartbreak from her death has not gone away.

"Katie's life - that’s its own testimony. The stuff that she did with youth, how she volunteered, stuff she did when she was off, things that she did in this department, the officers that she worked with. She made an impact and that to me as her legacy," Chief Drew said.

Her death shook the community, bringing out strangers in droves to drop flowers on her police cruiser and pay respects.

No one understands the heartache of losing someone quite like Rebekah Broadbent. Her husband, fallen Norfolk Police Officer Brian Jones, was killed in 2014 at the age of 34. He was shot and tragically lost his life running towards danger, instead of away from it.

"There are still some days at the pain is crushing. I’m not going to lie, you never move on, you do move forward and you know it’s up to you how you choose to do that," Broadbent said.

Officer Jones left behind three children, Bryson, Mariah and Kyler, and his spirit and legacy lives on within them.

"It’s sad that we lost good ones like that the ones that knew how to love and how to give back to the community," she said. "Knowing that there are still so many people out there that care and they want to honor and remember that it makes me grateful."

Due to coronavirus, honoring the men and women, like Officer Thyne and Officer Jones, has to be done a little differently this year. Many departments are holding virtual ceremonies.

The Norfolk Police Department's Honor Guard paid tribute to the 39 officers killed in the line of duty with a 21-Gun Salute followed by the playing of TAPS at Town Point Park.

On Friday, the Newport News Police Department held a safe, small memorial to honor the 12 officers who lost their lives in their city.

Chief Drew told News 3 that the decision to postpone an actual ceremony to honor Officer Thyne, and the other fallen officers, was one of the most difficult decisions he had to make. He wants the community to know that a "proper ceremony" will happen to pay tribute to the officers in person, as soon as it is safe to do so.

The department said right now they are looking at mid to late August.

Click below to see how other local departments memorialized fallen officer's: