MIAMI (CBSMIAMI)– May 1st marks the start of Law Enforcement Appreciation Month. Sunday, Miami-Dade Police made sure to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

They went to the final resting places of Miami-Dade officers, leaving the “Thin Blue Line” flag at their graves and giving each a final salute for their service.

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One of those remembrances was for Sgt. Jermaine Brown. He died in an ATV accident in 2018.

The moment was personal for Interim MDPD Director George A. Perez.

“We grew up together,” Perez said. “We were childhood friends together. We ended up living on the same block.”

This was initiated by the Police Officer Assistance Trust by setting up Project HERO, which stands for Honoring Every Resting Officer.

“Each of these officers made an impact– a significant impact– in their communities. It can be from a child to an elderly person. Somebody who has really had an amazing need in a critical moment of trauma,” said Perez. “These officers have established those relationships.”

The purpose is to recognize those who gave their lives in pursuit of making their communities safer places to live.

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Agent Laura Schwartzenberger was among those. She was killed last February while serving a warrant for crimes against children.

“We were able to accompany our federal partners with the FBI,” says Detective Alvaro Zabaleta. “Her remains are out there at the Neptune Memorial. So that way her family knows, and her colleagues, we don’t forget. We keep them in our hearts.”

The MDPD Marine Unit took a boat out to the memorial, laying flowers in the water.

They want to make sure the impact of these officers continues, even after their final call.

“We honor that legacy in our actions every day at the Miami-Dade Police Department,” said Perez.

In the history of Miami-Dade County, a total of 165 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty to date.

Nationally, there were 458 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2021, with COVID being the leading cause of death.

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Karli Barnett