Law enforcement officers from across Acadiana gathered Thursday at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church to honor their fallen comrades and to remember, along with the public, the price that some pay in the pursuit of law, order and justice.
Although the Lafayette Police Department holds the service every year for Police Memorial Day, this year’s remembrance held a deeper meaning as officers, residents, friends and family remembered Cpl. Michael Middlebrook, who was struck down in the line of duty on Oct. 1, 2017.
“It’s great that my husband’s being honored, but it’s bittersweet," said Middlebrook's widow, Adrienne Middlebrook. "It’s good knowing that everyone’s still here for us and remember him. This brings everything back, but it shows us that we have the support we’ve had since the beginning.”
Michael Middlebrook was shot and killed responding to a shooting. His father, Herman Middlebrook, said he was very proud of his son.
“He was doing exactly what he wanted to do. He loved his job and was an outstanding officer and son,” Herman Middlebrook said.
Lafayette Police Chief Toby Aguillard added that Michael Middlebrook was “an officer’s officer” and he was “everything a chief would want out of an officer. … He was unafraid of anything and very compassionate.
“Today we honor not only Michael, but all those officers from the Acadiana region whose lives were lost in the service of our community. This is our opportunity to honor not only them, but their families as well,” Aguillard said.
Between 15 and 20 police departments from around the region attended the ceremony that saw a procession from the police department at the corner of Pinhook Road and University Avenue to St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Camellia Boulevard and a three-volley salute.
At the ceremony, officers and civilians honored not only Middlebrook but also the 21 other Acadiana officers who have been killed in the line of duty over the years.
Lafayette Police Department Chaplain Patrick Wadsworth, who has served as the department’s chaplain for over 22 years, said the service was not only about honoring those who had been lost and their families, but was also a celebration of their lives and a reminder of the dedication that current officers need to continue the work of those who came before them.
“We’re here to both remember those who have fallen and to celebrate their lives and their dedication to their duty which these officers here today are still carrying out," Wadsworth said. "It’s a time to bring them together and to remind us of the high cost sometimes some of our officers pay doing this work.”