On the morning of May 19, 2003, 16-year-old Kiana Bryant Brown called her dad, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Officer Douglas Bryant, to tell him she passed her driver’s test and received her license.
She recalled him telling her how proud he was of her, and how much he loved her.
Unbeknownst to Brown, those were the last words her father would ever say to her as he was killed hours after that call in the line-of-duty while in a vehicle pursuit.
“I never got to show my dad my shiny new driver’s license that day when I got home from school,” she said. “He died bravely, but needlessly, just like the other 159 police officers in this country who sacrificed their lives in the line-of-duty that year.”
Brown’s father is one of the more than 540 names that have been added to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial in Richmond to remember those that have fallen.
Brown was the survivor’s speaker for the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation Ceremony Thursday, where six Kentucky law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty — as well as six historical honorees — were added to the same memorial with a total of 553 fallen officers’ names.
Law enforcement officers from across the commonwealth gathered at the memorial monument site at the Department of Criminal Justice Training (DOCJT) building along with family, friends and community members to honor those that prematurely “ended their watch.”
Officer Rodney Smith of the Hickman Police Department, Officer Scotty Hamilton of the Pikeville Police Department, Deputy Rusty Anderson of the Barren County Sheriff's Office, Officer Phillip Meacham of the Hopkinsville Police Department, Deputy Devin Meriwether Sr. of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Officer Deidre Mengedoht of the Louisville Metro Police Department were the six names added to the memorial to honor the officers that were killed in 2018.
Six additional historical honorees were added to the monument which included Deputy Marshall Russell Wireman, Officer Preston Pullen, Officer John Collopy, Deputy Dolie Harmon, Officer Clifford Hall and Officer Bernard Ratliff.
Before the ceremony, Alex Payne, commissioner of the DOCJT, recognized the service of our law enforcement and first responders serving currently and those that were killed. He also introduced Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton who gave the opening remarks.
“Every person who serves in law enforcement is extraordinary,” Hampton said. “You serve us and stand between us and chaos. You run towards danger and you go out everyday not knowing if you will be able to return home.” …
“The families you all have, especially the families of the fallen, you have a special sacrifice that I truly appreciate,” she said. “For those of you to join the ranks, I thank you for choosing this honored profession and my prayer for all of you is that you return home to your families every single day and that your end of watch will be a day of your choosing.”
During Brown’s survivor speech, she said that the second she heard of her father’s death, her life shattered into a million pieces. She listed off all the milestone events her father missed because of his premature death, like her high school graduation, seeing her go to college and getting married.
Throughout all of those events, however, she still felt broken with overwhelming grief.
On those days though, she would look to her loved ones and friends that made life more bearable.
“Every act of kindness, every small gesture was like the sweep of a broom,” Brown said. “And with every sweep of that broom, my broken pieces gathered into a pile.”
With more exciting milestones passing, Brown’s grief still lingered, but through continued acts of love and kindness, the acts were like “drops of glue.”
“Those broken pieces slowly began to come back together,” she said. “I shattered on that day, when I was 16 and it will be impossible for me to ever be the same — full of cracks and chips. There are still several pieces in the pile that aren’t glued back together yet and there are pieces that are lost and will never be put back together.”
Brown said that regardless of race, age, political party or where someone comes from, everyone has broken pieces.
"The lucky ones might only have a handful of broken pieces, and others might be completely shattered — but still — every single person has broken pieces," she said. "In a world that is busy and self centered, be the broom."
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