“Give me another name for 172 Street at Collins Avenue,” I ask my new officers before they are released for solo duty on patrol. The answer is not as important as the purpose behind the question. I am quite sure they’ll have no problem finding 172 Street and Collins or Town Center Park, or Epicure Market, etc. It is the importance of the street naming for a local hero who gave his life in the line of duty back in 1928 at that very location. The primary name today is “Town Marshall Ralph G. Langworthy Street, so named for the Honorable law enforcement officer who died in a traffic crash while on duty. His wife at the time was pregnant with their 3rd child, to be later named David Langworthy, who even though he never met his father, did visit Sunny Isles Beach to see his father’s name memorialized and the street named in his honor by our City Commission and the Police Benevolent Association (PBA).
On Friday, September 10th, 2010, the Dade County PBA under the direction of President John Rivera, the day before 9-11, chose to remember all the HEROES who gave their lives on both 9-11 of 2001, and all the “LOCAL HEROES” who gave their lives in the line of duty. Some of these have been gone for over 100 years but the promise made by the PBA and President Rivera and his staff, has never been broken…”WE WILL NEVER, EVER, FORGET THEM!”
And so, on September 10th, hundreds gathered in the lobby of the Stephen Clark County Building where the names of all local officers who have died in the line of duty were emblazoned on a T-Shirt and posted on a frame, similar to the likes of a store mannequin, with the date of final service inscribed. Family members, friends, colleagues, public officials, chaplains and even the Homeless gathered in the downtown lobby to remember and recognize.
In a heartwarming but emotional and moving speech, Rivera told the families that their loved ones did not “die in vain.” And he reminded public officials again, that the only defense between crime and chaos and public safety and security are the officers who choose to protect and defend them. He begged for the continued support by them and the community on behalf of officers.
Few people know that Rivera himself as a police sergeant and road patrol supervisor had an officer die in his arms, in the middle of the roadway, on the midnight shift after the officer was shot in the throat by a traffic violator. Even the vest he was wearing could not save him. Rivera cradled the officer in his arms as he gasped for air. It is any wonder why John Rivera is so passionate about his officers and their safety and getting support for them. It was difficult for Rivera to hold back as emotions ran very deep at the ceremony. Gee, I wonder why? By the way, the officer who was killed that night, Rivera and I both worked for his father as young rookies. And he would have traded places with his son in a minute, if he had been given the chance. Now he can only remember what once was! As a community and as a city with something very special in our partnership, please remember the heroes of 9-11 this year, the local heroes who gave all, and keep the PBA pledge alive, to NEVER FORGETANY OF THEM.
God Bless You and God Bless Our America!!