EDMOND — A recent Blue Mass, held to honor the sacrifices of law enforcement officers, was made even more somber by the May 18 shooting death of a metro-area probation and parole officer.
Hundreds attended the Blue Mass on May 19 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 924 S Littler.
The Blue Mass is a Catholic tradition dating to the first such service in Washington, D.C., in 1934.
The Mass is a way to honor law enforcement officers who have fallen in the line of duty and show gratitude for the law enforcement officers who continue to serve, as well as their families.
This year's annual Mass was coordinated by Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel and his office. Whetsel is a member of St. John the Baptist.
He estimated about 70 law enforcement officers, mostly from the sheriff's office, Oklahoma City Police Department, Edmond Police Department and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, attended the event.
The Mass paid tribute to the 25 members of law enforcement who have died since 2000. There was an audible gasp when Whetsel mentioned the death of Jeffery McCoy, who died only 24 hours before the Mass.
McCoy, 32, of Norman, was killed May 18 in Midwest City.
Several law officers and some family members placed flowers in a large vase at the church altar in memory of law enforcement officers who died since 2000.
The final rose, honoring McCoy, was delivered by Justin Jones, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
While Whetsel read the names of the fallen, their faces were displayed on a big screen near the altar.
“Putting a face with a name makes it more meaningful,” Whetsel said.
He reflected on the service's meaning.
“Law enforcement never forgets these people — never,” he said. “This is a good service for our citizens, but it's good for us as well.”
The Rev. John Metzinger, pastor of the church, shared remarks at the Mass.
“We thank you for all you do and for your commitment,” he told the law enforcement officers seated in the front pews of the church.
Detective Marion Cain of the Edmond Police Department carried a flower in memory of Glen Collins of the Shawnee Police Department, who died in 2005.
“The entire ceremony was well-done,” Cain said. “It's great to remember these people.”
Whetsel also asked the congregation to honor those injured, currently on duty and family members of law enforcement officers.
After Communion, the Sheriff's Honor Guard provided a gun salute to the fallen officers in a courtyard just outside the sanctuary.
“Taps” was played, and Anne Keef of St. John the Baptist sang “A Man in Blue.”
Keef also placed a rose at the altar in honor of Sgt. Jonathan Dragus of the Oklahoma City Police Department. Dragus, Keef's son-in-law, died in 2005 during a pursuit.