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BLUE CHRISTMAS TREE HONORS FALLEN OFFICERS
Christmas is nearing, and families are gathering together to spend the time celebrating with loved ones for the holidays. The faces of all your loved ones gather together to talk animatedly about whatever that happened in the year becomes a fond memory engraved into the minds of many until the next year. Yes, for many, that is their reality. Yet, for some others, it’s not the same. The holiday season is the hardest for those who have lost loved ones, especially the fallen officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. As a way to honor those who have died, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department is looking to honor them by decorating a Christmas tree—most people decorate by hanging various ornaments of all shapes and sizes. The department, on the other hand, has something else in mind. Ornaments, yes—but not just any old ornament—each ornament will have the officer’s name and rank, as well as the ‘end of watch’ date. Each date will be different, as it will be the date when the officers gave their lives in the line of duty. This year, there will be a total of 137 bulbs—one for each who died this year, including Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett. "When Jake was killed in the line of duty—as tragic as that was—there is a beauty that came out of it and this community became even more knit together and so did this department," said Joni Scott, Boone County Sheriff’s Office’s chaplain. “It means a lot to all of us—we were all very close—he was a wonderful officer and it's our way of honoring him,” said Mike Gideon, senior dispatch officer in Boone County. The officers worked together through the weekend to write every name, rank, and the end-of-duty date by hand on each ornament—and hang each on the tree, it stood as a reminder of those officers who will not be forgotten. "That's a life. That's a life that matters. That's a chair that's empty. That's a car that's not being driven. That is an incredible hero that's no longer walking our streets, so it meant something," said Scott. Once the tree comes down, each ornament will be sent across the country to the department for the officer it lost.