COLLIER COUNTY — A single-car crash took Collier County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Roy Arthur Williams’ life in 1991 while he was serving and protecting his community.
But his memory still lives on in the minds of his family, friends and fellow law enforcement officers.
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office held a memorial service Tuesday morning to remember and honor Williams and nine other law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty since 1928.
“It’s very important that the law enforcement remembers their own,” said Williams’ daughter, Cpl. Patricia Williams-Thompson, through tears. “It helps keep the officers out there that are working now safe by remembering what happened and reminding them that they’re only human.”
The ceremony, which was part of National Law Enforcement week, took place in front of the fallen officer memorial stone wall outside the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.
After the service, Williams-Thompson and her sister, Saundra Batrez, walked up to the memorial wall and placed their hands on their father’s name plaque while taking a moment to remember him.
“It’s been 19 years since he went, I’ve spent 20 years working for the department as a deputy here and it never gets any easier,” said Williams-Thompson, who followed in her father’s footsteps and became a Collier County Sheriff’s deputy. “I’d feel better if he was here to see this memorial, and to see what his co-workers have done for him.”
During the ceremony, which featured the Village School of Naples chorus, a Collier County Sheriff’s Office helicopter fly over and “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes by the Harp & Thistle Pipe Band, family members of the fallen officers were asked to light candles in remembrance of their loved ones.
Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk addressed the crowd during the ceremony and shared his sympathy and appreciation for the sacrifice that the fallen officers made for their community.
“We live in such a safe community, but it’s only been made that way by the contributions of the men and women who work every day and, more importantly those who have given their lives to keep it this way,” he said. “If we don’t remember them and keep their history and contributions alive, we might tend to forget what was given up so that we could all live in a safe and good community.”
Cpl. Mark Caperton — who was killed Sept. 23, 1984, in a two-vehicle crash with a drunk driver while he was en route to assist an alleged assault victim — was the only fallen officer that Rambosk knew personally.
Caperton’s older brother, Doug, cried after lighting a candle in front of his brother’s picture, which was displayed along with eight other fallen officers’ pictures on a table that was decorated with white carnations, a Collier County Sheriff’s deputy hat and boots.
“I don’t think we can go on unless we remember what’s happened,” said Caperton, a retired Collier County Sheriff’s Office major. “A lot of bad things happen, but we need to stop and remember people in law enforcement, protective services, the military and anyone who’s given their life in the defense of their community and their country.”