NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The law enforcement community remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice on Tuesday at the annual Nashville FOP Peace Officer Memorial Service.

Relatives of fallen officers were invited to place yellow roses in front of their loved one’s pictures.  

Steve Woodard remembered his brother, Lt. Ronnie Woodard, who died 31 years ago while confronting the driver of a stolen vehicle.  

“He always policed 24/7. He was just a policeman’s policeman. That’s what he was. A policeman’s policeman,” Woodard explained. 

For those still serving, the threat to law enforcement has never been greater. The last year has proven to be the deadliest in the profession, with more than 500 officers across the country dying in the line of duty.   

“It’s the most challenging time that we’ve ever seen to be a law enforcement officer. There’s so many different variables that pose risks to us and challenges to us. Whether it be roadside events or violence against police officers, which is increasing single every day,” Nashville Fraternal Order of Police President James Smallwood said. 

Despite this, they hope to build trust and understanding in the community.  

“I would want them to realize we are putting our lives on the line for them. Even if they don’t know us and we don’t know them, we are willing to die for complete strangers if that means that some calling for help will come running when they call,” Smallwood said.  

It’s a risk surviving family members of fallen officers hope the public will think about.  

“They put their lives on the line, they never know what they’re going to. There’s no respect for law enforcement today, that’s the problem. No respect, and you need to respect them. Do what they tell you, everything will be alright. If you don’t agree with them, take it up after the arrest,” Woodard said.

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The ceremony honored 50 officers who gave their lives serving Nashville. Loved ones say their memory still lives on.

“Every police officer I see on the road anywhere I see I think of my brother. You know, it’s a brotherhood. Blue blood runs deep,” Woodard said.