As the sun was setting Thursday evening, Lt. J.B. Slaton read the names of the 29 Louisiana State Police troopers killed in the line of duty since the inception of the police agency in 1922.
Groups of family members stood and watched as a rose was placed on pedestals marking the 29 fallen state troopers in a ceremony.
The list of fallen state troopers starts with Neill Yarborough Sr., who was shot by a fugitive in Bossier Parish in 1925, and ends with Senior Trooper Steven Vincent, who was fatally shot in 2015 while trying to assist a driver in Lake Charles.
When Trooper Francis C. Zinna’s name was called, more than a dozen family members somberly stood, honoring their father, grandfather and great-grandfather. The Zinna family has attended every Louisiana State Police ceremony since the memorial was dedicated in 1996.
Zinna, then 33 years old, was hit by a car and killed while working in West Baton Rouge Parish after only 2½ years with state police.
So far in 2017, 50 officers across the country and three from Louisiana have been killed in the line of duty. In 2016, some 145 officers were killed nationwide, including nine from Louisiana.
“What’s been going on throughout the country is hurtful,” said Zinna’s youngest son Sam Zinna, who was 15 months old when his father was killed. “Every time an officer is killed, whether they’re male or female, we just go back to our childhood and the loss that we suffered.”
Sam Zinna recently attended a memorial in New Orleans where they honored the memory of East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Deputy Brad Garafola, who was killed last summer when a lone gunman fatally shot him and two other law enforcement officers and wounded three others.
Wearing dress uniforms and a black ribbon over their badges, dozens of Baton Rouge law enfor…
“We all feel a personal pang every time someone is killed. We feel it,” said Anthony Zinna, the oldest sibling who was 9 when his father was killed. “We know what they’re going through.”
Sam Zinna grew up to have a nearly 40-year career in law enforcement in Jefferson Parish and learned how respected his father was and about his deep faith in God from some of the officers his father once worked with. The family has been trying to get U.S. 190 between the Mississippi River and La. 416, in the area where their father was killed, dedicated to him.
Louisiana State Police Col. Kevin Reeves said during Thursday's ceremony that one of the most important parts of his job is to make sure these men and women are not forgotten.
“We have families of troopers here that died in the 1950s. It’s just incredible that they still come because they want to honor their loved one and we surely want to honor them too,” Reeves said. “We never want to forget the sacrifice that was made here by these Louisiana State troopers and all law enforcement officers.”
The youngest Zinna present, 13-year-old Mackenzie, read the poem “The Monument” during the ceremony to honor the memory of her great-grandfather.
“I never dreamed it would be me,” the poem reads, “and with heavy heart and bended knee I ask for all here from the past, dear God, let my name be the last.”