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St. Louis families visit national memorial honoring fallen officers

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Family members visited the national landmark that now lists the name of fallen police officers from the St. Louis area.

“You know what you’re going to see, but you’re not prepared for what you’re going to feel,” Officer Justin Sparks said.

Sparks is the brother-in-law of St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder, who was and killed while responding to a call on October 6, 2016.

Snyder’s name was recently added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. He was among the 143 officers who died in the line of duty in 2016.

“When you see that name and it’s etched in stone, you feel the permanence of the moment,” Sparks said.

Snyder’s parents and widow, Elizabeth, their son, Malachi, were present for National Police Week.

“You really feel like you want to do everything you can to take care of them,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said Saturday, leading up to the vigil.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger also attended the dedication.

“It’s a lot more emotional than I expected,” Stenger said.

Elizabeth Snyder said she was moved to see her husband’s name listed on the national memorial.

“It will forever be there. He’ll never be forgotten. His name will always be etched in that stone,” she said.

National Police Week draws tens of thousands of people to the National Mall each year in May. The gatherings include police departments from across the country, survivors, and dignitaries.

The St. Louis County Police Department’s Pipes and Drums band performs at the annual event.

Det. Dave Sandbach is making his 14th return to National Police Week. But the significance of this year is not lost on him, or his fellow colleagues and musicians.

“It’s the first time that, as band, that we’re actually putting someone on the wall,” he said. “So it’s hard.”

Lakeshire Police Officer Ronald Strittmatter, St. Francois County Deputy Sheriff Paul Clark, and Chester Police Department Officer James Brockmeyer were also recognized this year.

The names were about the 143 read during a candlelight vigil Saturday night.

Former U.S. Attorney General and former Missouri Governor John Ashcroft read the names of fallen officers from Missouri.