Candle light vigil celebrates the lives of eight police officers killed recently in Dallas and Baton Rouge

Rubén Cantú-Rodríguez/Conexión Del Río

DEL RIO – Eight empty chairs and a crowd gathered around the Del Rio Police Department sent a loud and clear message on Monday night, July 18, 2016, when law enforcement officials, city officials and the community joined as one to honor the fallen police officers killed during recent attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

The candle light vigil drew law enforcement officials, including the Del Rio Police Department, Val Verde County Sheriff’s Office, National Parks Service, DPS Troopers, Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol and representatives from Laughlin Air Force Base, as well as members of the community wanting to express their sympathies to the families of the fallen.

Five empty chairs on the left and three more on the right were set up on the stage, each one bearing the name of a police officer killed in recent shootings. Five of them in Dallas, on July 7, and three more in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 17.

Brock Kerzmann, Pastor of the Trinity of Worship Church, opened the ceremony with a prayer asking everyone to recognize that there is a need for change, and that we all need to be strong.

Rev. Brock Kerzmann, Pastor of the Trinity House of Worship, leads the community in a prayer at the candle light vigil.

Reverend Alfonso Treviño, of the First Baptist Church, asked the Lord to “watch over all policemen, give them the strength to endure… because their duty is dangerous, grant them your protection.” Treviño presented a certificate of appreciation to Waylon Bullard, Del Rio Police Department Chief of Police.

Robert Garza, Del Rio City Mayor, invited everyone to slow down and think about the current situation of our country, and to reflect who we are and where we are going to. “This is a good time to stop and think where we are going.”

Garza remembered that the police officers shot in Dallas were only doing their job, protecting the integrity of protestors when they were shot by a lone sniper shooter. He added that police officers sometimes become the only shield between law-abiding citizens and the forces of evil.

“We need to make sure that they have all the tools they need, all the equipment they need to protect us, we need to address every issue from a color blind perspective,” Garza said inviting everyone to raise our own children in a way that helps to end bigotry, so they don’t see at the color of the skin.

Val Verde County Sheriff, Joe Frank Martinez, said that law-enforcement officers have a responsibility to fulfill, and that is to protect society and to do it in a respectful manner, to prevent any issues from arising.

“The reason we don’t have these issues is that we treat people like people, we don’t look at the color of their skin, we look at their hearts,” Martinez said.