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Escambia County Sheriff's Department Remembers Its Fallen

Dave Dunwoody

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office held its annual memorial service, for the 15 officers who have died in the line of duty since 1923. 

Training Room number one was packed with the fallen officers’ families and friends, and law enforcement personnel from various agencies. ECSO uniforms were formal dress, with black tape across their badges as a sign of mourning.

“To our families of the fallen officers, thank you for attending these services, which are at best bittersweet,” said Sheriff David Morgan, who told the gathering that they also give pause to remember hearing “those crushing words” which changed their lives forever.

“That never again, in this life, will we hear their voice; share birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and just life,” said Morgan. “For life as we knew it is no more. Yet this is also a time to reflect on how truly blessed we were all, for having shared these few moments with them.”

Roughly half of the ceremony was held indoors. The other half moved outside to the front of the administrative building, to the memorial to the fallen deputies.

A blue rose was placed on the memorial for Colonel Rodney Eddins, who passed away last week. Then red roses were placed by the officers’ relatives and friends, assisted by two Escambia County deputies, as Sheriff Morgan read off their names:

Sheriff A. Cary Ellis – January 1, 1923

Constable Mallory Williams – May 4, 1941

DS Joseph Elmer Whitworth – April 22, 1954

Constable William. “Clint” Rigby – September 4, 1955

Patrolman Roland Davis, Sr. – September 24, 1955

DS Len B. Adams – June 16, 1958

DS Joseph Mallory Gassman – January 30, 1966

DS Charles Leroy Wilkerson – January 19, 1974

DS Morley “Buddy” Ray – April 7, 1978

DS Floyd “Doug” Heist – May 3, 1980

CPL. Eric Byron Streeter – March 11, 1984

DS Donald Ray Cook – December 3, 1988

DS Sgt. Dennis Mathis – July 27, 1989

Sgt. Roosevelt Walker, Jr. – May 22, 1998

Lt. George Hura, Jr. – May 4, 2004

The officers' death dates are considered their "End of Watch."

Pastor Doug Fulford then delivered the benediction, followed by a 21-gun salute, a bugler playing “Taps,” and a bagpiper with “Amazing Grace.”

Another part of the ceremony was the reading of a poem – author unknown – in which a lawman who falls in the line of duty stands before God. In the last lines God tells him:

“You’ve borne your burdens well;

Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,

You’ve done your time in Hell.”