PINELLAS PARK, FL (WFLA) — The number of law enforcement officers shot and killed in the line of duty sharply increased in 2016. And in 2017 we start the year with yet another tragic reminder of how dangerous it is for the men and women in blue who risk their lives for us every day.
Two officers were killed in the line of duty just this week in Orlando.
“It’s only getting worse. It’s sickening and sad,” said TJ Burke, the found of the Officer Down 5K.
Burke started his law enforcement career in Pennsylvania in 2009. In 2011 he came up with the idea of the Officer Down 5K to support law enforcement.
Now in a very dangerous climate, the 5K grew into something much bigger, a nationwide movement now in 25 states. It’s next stop is in Tampa Bay and will be called Unite For Heroes.
“In this event in Pinellas Park we are bringing together, military, fire, security, police. We’re bringing all the heroes together,” said Burke.
The event has grown into a family-friendly festival with bounce houses, face painting, a K9 demonstration and live music. Of course there is a 5K and Kids Fun Run, but the idea is to bring the community together.
“And say hello and get to meet your police officers that are working your areas – fire fighters, military – and thank them. It’s a time of celebration and at the same time mourn the loss of officer that have lost their lives in the line of duty and give them a moment of silence and let their families know we are there with them,” said Debora Ortiz of the Code 9 Project.
Code 9 is a partner in the Unite For Heroes. Code 9 educates the public about PTSD, and other mental health issues, law enforcement face, triggered by this dangerous job.
The event is on January 28th, but sign up is underway now.