From near and far they gathered, county officials, county law men and women and those who support them.
At high noon on the steps of the sheriff’s department, Kaufman County paused Friday to remember their brethren slain the night before in a brutal attack on Dallas police.
It was more than the leading news story of the day.
For some it was intensely personal. Like Kaufman Police Chief Dana Whitaker, a former Dallas officer whose son serves on the force. Or County Commissioner Skeet Phillips, also the father of a member of the Dallas Police Dept.
County Judge Bruce Wood spoke at Friday’s impromptu memorial of the support Kaufman County had received from DPD when the county was going through its own law enforcement tragedy in 2013, with the slayings of District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife Cynthia and Assistant DA Mark Hasse.
Wood noted that life is precious and can be gone in a blink.
He called the attackers “faceless cowards,” adding, “I don’t know how you deal with that.”
Sheriff David Byrnes, among those with many connections to Dallas law enforcement, said it is very difficult not to be angry at a time like this.
And for what? There is no rational reason for such actions, he said.
He advised that there will be more bad times to come, to keep all Dallas police in prayers, and to “Stay the course.”
District Attorney Erleigh Wiley addressed the political aspect of the events, that black lives matter, “but let’s add the rest.”
She said Americans are so blessed to live in a country where they can speak out, and have the right to protest against the very police who are keeping them safe.
She noted that as the shots were fired, police told the protesters to go back, while they moved forward.
“Think of the ones we have with us, and thank them,” she said.
Court-at-law Judge Bobby Rich, with more than 20 years serving DPD, said law enforcement gets in the blood, and there’s no way to understand that for those who aren’t in law enforcement or married to someone who is.
“Thank you for what you do,” he said. “We don’t take you for granted.”
He, too, said he was angry.
“You want justice and you want it now,” he said. “But you can’t think that way.”
Justice will be received.
There is good and evil in the world and a clear demarcation between the two, he said. He pointed to the teachings of the Apostle Paul, who said to fight evil with good, and the words of Jesus, who said to love your enemies, even those that persecute you.
Pastor John Stocks with Kaufman County Christian Center, said he is glad he knows police officers and of their heroic dedication to the community. He recited Psalms 91: 15-16:
“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
“With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.”
Rev. Beth Kellner with First United Methodist Church of Kaufman had the crowd to recite along with her the 23rd Psalm.
As she prayed she invoked, “You are with us as we seek to understand this awful event. You are with them, all who mourn, who seek justice, answers.”
Wood concluded advising all to renew their efforts to do all they possibly can to make all first responders always at the forefront.