A Memorial Day celebrates those in blue
At the latest Plant City City Commission meeting, on May 9, a proclamation was given to the Plant City Police Department in recognition of the National Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week.
A proclamation was also given to the East Hillsborough Law Enforcement Appreciation Association.
National Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week
Wednesday began the week-long holiday – National Police Week, which honors the lives of the men and women in blue, both living and deceased.
May 11 to May 17 will observe officers with various functions, including the 34th Annual Candlelight Vigil at Washington D.C., on May 13.
During the vigil, the names of the officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, and who’s names are engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, will be read aloud.
In 1962, National Police Week was established by a joint resolution of Congress.
That same year, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed National Peace Officers Memorial Day to be held annually on May 15 – during National Police Week.
The memorial day pays tribute to law enforcement officers on the local, county, state and federal levels, who lost their lives or who have been left with a disability.
Plant City commemorates the life of the fallen Plant City Police Officer Robert Yates who was killed in 1911. While on Patrol on Nov. 10, 1911, Yates spotted a suspicious man near the train depot. When he tried to question the man, he refused to cooperate, pulled out a gun, and fled the scene. As Yates pursued the man with assistanec from a guard at a stockade, two local residents, and two bloodhounds.
The suspect went into a swamp, where he shot and killed one of the bloodhounds.
Yates and the civilians entered the swamp and the suspect opened fire hitting both the officer and the stockade guard. The guard recovered from his wounds, but Yates was left paralyzed and died over a month later.
The suspect was apprehended the day of the incident and charged with murder. He was sentenced to one year in prison.
Yates had served with the Plant City Police Department for several months, and was survived by his wife, son, and daughter.
East Hillsborough Law Enforcement Appreciation Association
Plant City City Manager Bill McDaniel is the chairman of the East Hillsborough Law Enforcement Appreciation Association.
He and the other board members were present at the commission meeting to accept the proclamation.
On Tuesday, the board held its 60th Annual East Hillsborough Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner, at the Florida Strawberry Festival Exhibition Hall.
“Each year we recognize the officers that serve our community in four different agencies: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Plant City Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,” McDaniel said.
In 1962, Sgt. Ben Wilder and Deputy Perry Young of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, were called to a home where there was a domestic dispute between a family.
They were joined by several other deputies. A suspect from the home shot at both men. Wilder was killed and Young lost an arm after sustaining an injury. The suspect was eventually killed by law enforcement after engaging in a shootout.
In the aftermath of the incident, five businessmen wanted to honor the officers and formed the East Hillsborough Law Enforcement Appreciation Association, in 1962.
That same year, the association provided an appreciation dinner for officers in the Robinson Elementary School auditorium.
The event does not receive government funds, but is currently sponsored and funded by the community.
“That began the tradition that has sustained for the last 60 years, through the support and the generosity of this community,” McDaniel said. “It’s truly our honor to work on behalf of this association, and see this proud tradition is continued.”