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EPPD, EPSO hold separate inaugural memorials for police week

Ceremonies to honor fallen officers

Good Morning El Paso: Police week...

EL PASO, Texas - As National Police Week comes to an end, the El Paso Police Department and the El Paso Sheriff's Office each hosted their own evening vigils Thursday.

Sheriff Richard Wiles led the event in far east El Paso at the deparment's headquarters.

A windy Thursday did not stop community members from attending the memorial that honored fallen officers of the Sheriff's Office.

"Public safety also has a cause, not just monetarily, but also a cost in lives," Wiles told ABC-7.

Since 1881, 14 EPSO members died in the line of duty.

"As a community, we can't forget that cost, we can't forget that sacrifices made by these individuals," Wiles said.

The backdrop for the event was the department's newest addition, the EPSO Memorial Wall with the names of all fourteen fallen officers.

The memorial wall was unveiled last year.

"This is our first memorial during National Police Week and we intend to do this every year," Wiles said.

In downtown El Paso, the El Paso Police Department also held its first-ever evening memorial, the ''Blue Light Vigil,'' at San Jacinto Plaza.

Officers and community members attended the event.

Since 1883, 31 EPPD officers have died in the line of duty.

"In a time like now in society, where it's kind of hard to be a police officer, and we just want to be here and show everybody that we want to unite them," said Officer Lilliann Armendariz.

Armendariz is also the family liaison for Officer David Ortiz, the most recent El Paso police officer killed while on duty.

In March 2016, Ortiz was on his patrol motorcycle at Lee Trevino and Vista Del Sol when a car crashed into him.

The driver, John Paul Perry, was accused of intentionally killing Ortiz. In January, Perry accepted a 40-year prison sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Ortiz's family also attended the vigil, many family members wearing T-shirts with his photo.

"They come with a lot of family and it means a lot to them," Armendariz said.

EPPD will hold another memorial Friday morning from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at Chuck Heinrich Park.

On Saturday, the Fallen Officer Memorial Run and Walk will start at Zaragoza and Pellicano at 8 a.m.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page website, 145 officers died in the line of duty in the U.S. last year.

Texas topped the list with 19 deaths, the most than any other state.

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