Local News

Event honors law officers who died in the line of duty

— The last time Rhonda Hill saw her father, Sgt. Jimmy Roger Moore, was when she was 9 years old, she recalled.

“I was daddy’s girl,” she said.

Tragically, her father, a Sebring police officer, died in a car accident caused by a tire that blew.

Hill and her brother, Jimmy Moore Jr., were among dozens attending the Peace Officers’ Memorial Day event at the Jack Stroup Civic Center.

Capt. Paul Blackman of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office noted that a table was set up in the room with no one sitting at it.

The table was set up in honor of officers who died in the line of duty who would not be able to sit at the table and eat a meal, he said.

The empty chair was where the officer would have sat, a lemon on the table represented the bitter feeling after the officer died, the salt represented the tears shed upon the officer’s death and a rose represented the officer’s loved ones and family members, he said.

Sebring Police Chief Thomas Dettman said that four law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in Florida during 2013.

They were Sgt. Gary Morales of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, who died on Feb. 28, 2013, after being shot; Master Deputy Joseph Robbins of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, who died in a vehicle accident on April 26, 2013; Sgt. Mike Wilson of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, who died on Aug. 5, 2013, after being shot; and Deputy Paul Rivera, who died in a vehicle accident on Sept. 21, 2013.

They also recognized three law enforcement K9s who died in 2013.

K9 Koda of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office was shot to death on Jan. 31, 2013; K9 Gus, who was with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, died on Aug. 1, 2013; and K9 Max of the Miami Gardens Police Department died on Sept. 12, 2013.

Dettman also recognized those officers who have died in the line of duty in Highlands County, including Sgt. Marc Charles Wilbur, 43, of the Avon Park Police Department, who died of a heart attack on Dec. 25, 2008; Inspector James E. Rodgers, 46, and Capt. Robert F. Hopton Jr., 52, both of whom died on July 10, 1995, in a helicopter crash, and Moore, who died on June 30, 1976.

Hill, who said she attends the ceremony every year, said she remembers her father as being awesome.


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