MIAMI - Thursday evening marked a time of remembrance of Miami-Dade police officers who have died in the line of duty.
Local 10 has been a part of the solemn ceremony for more than two decades, and Thursday's event opened a new chapter.
With a flame flickering in the wind and flags flying at half-staff, Miami-Dade County's fallen officers were honored.
"As a mother tonight, I mean, I'm honoring my son as I'm honoring our men and women in uniform," said Elaine Gonzalez, the mother of a fallen officer.
Gonzalez's son, Giovanni Gonzalez, died three years ago in a collision on Florida's Turnpike.
"Please do respect our men and women in uniform," Elaine Gonzalez said.
A memorial wall at Tropical Park bears the names of 137 officers. This year's event made a special tribute to Tony Koga, who received a severe brain injury during a police chase in 1987. He survived until last year.
"He so wanted to come back. I mean, that was the hardest part for us," said Koga's father, Harry Schwab.
"We did have him for 25 years, but it wasn't the way he wanted his life to be," said his mother, Beverly Schwab.
"He's up there watching right now. I guarantee it," Harry Schwab said.
The service also recognized Local 10 News legend Dwight Lauderdale, who has emceed the event for more than two decades. Thursday was his last appearance, and he passed the master of ceremonies torch to Local 10 crime specialist John Turchin.
"I think he's a wonderful fit because he has dedicated his entire career, his 31-year career, working side by side with law enforcement. Who better than John Turchin?" Lauderdale said.
"This is probably the biggest honor in my entire career," Turchin said. "My whole life has been dedicated toward law enforcement and helping victims, and here I have an opportunity to be right in the middle of it all, and I'm quite humbled and quite honored."
Lauderdale and Turchin have nearly 70 years of broadcasting experience between them, but they said that by far, the biggest honor of their careers is to recognize those who work to protect the South Florida community each day. Only if all goes well do the police officers get to return home.
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