Over the span of just a few months last year, three Kansas law enforcement officials were killed in the line of duty.
And on Friday, their lives and work continued to be remembered.
The men were honored during a ceremony in Topeka as lawmakers, police officers and a crowd of Kansans gathered in the state Capitol to pay tribute.
“We stand with you and will continue to stand with you,” Gov. Sam Brownback told the packed crowd during the ceremony, which also thanked law enforcement officials across the state for their service.
Master Deputy Brandon Collins with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office; Kansas City, Kan., Police Capt. Robert Melton; and Kansas City, Kan., Police Detective Brad Lancaster all died in 2016.
Collins was killed in September after a driver hit the rear of his patrol car during a traffic stop.
Melton died in July when he was shot while helping other officers look for suspects in a drive-by shooting. Lancaster was killed in May after being shot near the Kansas Speedway by a man being pursued by law enforcement officers.
Friday’s event, marked with solemn acoustic music and bagpipes, was the latest tribute to the three.
Their names are now included on the Kansas Law Enforcement Memorial in front of the state Capitol.
“It’s comforting just to come and gather and see the outpouring of support once again after losing the two officers last year,” Kansas City, Kan., Police Chief Terry Zeigler said after the ceremony. “It’s just important that we never forget the sacrifices of our men and women in blue.”
Friday’s ceremony came on the same day that Brownback signed a bill into law known as the law enforcement protection act.
“It’s time that we act to better protect those who have always protected us,” Brownback said.
The bill increases penalties for those who are motivated to commit crimes against law enforcement officers.
Lawmakers acted quickly this week in an effort to pass the bill before Friday’s ceremony.
The House passed the legislation 115-9 Tuesday, and the Senate voted 38-0 to send the bill to Brownback on Wednesday.