URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Officers and deputies from Champaign County came together on Friday to remember those who served and honor seven of the county’s officers who gave their lives in service.

The ceremony took place at the Champaign County Courthouse in Urbana. Retired Judge Jeffery Ford was among the speakers, emphasizing how important trust is between the community and the police. He said trust helps keep the streets and everyone who walks them safe and prevents more names from being added to the list of officers who lose their lives in the line of duty.

Retired Champaign County Sheriff Dave Madigan agreed, saying days like this help keep the memory of fallen officers alive.

“Pay respects to the people who are protecting the citizens,” Madigan said. “And now that I’m retired myself, I really appreciate it.”

Meanwhile, Sheriff Dustin Heuermann, who helped organize the memorial, said it is a reminder of how dangerous law enforcement officers’ jobs are.

“It’s kind of a sobering experience,” Heuermann said. “It really reminds us that there’s a danger to the job that we do every day in the name of protecting the community. I think the least we can do is get together at least once a year and kind of remember those who’ve made that sacrifice for all of us.”

Heuermann added that he was proud of the community showing their support for law enforcement, saying that the most important thing to remember is that deputies have the backs of the community in the same way the community had their backs.

“There’s a lot of conversation that’s negative toward law enforcement, that’s negative toward our criminal justice system,” Heuermann said. “And sure, we have our faults, but to see such a large crowd here and then at the Champaign event earlier today as well, just helps reiterate that we do have a community that supports us.”

Heuermann said that people who see an officer shouldn’t be afraid to walk up and say hello. That friendly conversation, he said, helps connect police and the community even more.

Part of the ceremony included Champaign County Chief Deputy Shannon Barrett recognizing the seven officers from across the county who lost their lives while keeping the community safe. She also noted that in the first five months of 2023, 42 officers across the country have been killed in the line of duty, including two with the Chicago Police Department.