BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An immense showing of love and honor could be seen in a convoy that stretched for miles across I-10 as officers from across the country surrounded Officer Matthew Gerald and carried him to his final resting place.
A convoy led by hundreds of motorcycle officers and local law enforcement lit up I-10 with pride as they took their fallen brother to his final resting place. They came from New York, Mississippi, and Nevada, among other places. Nearly every state in the country saluted their fallen comrade.
Kinnelon, New Jersey patrolmen Mark Ehrenburg and Doug Shortway flew in yesterday to attend the services.
"It's touching to see how it impacts so many different lives from all over the country," said Ehrenburg.
"It really re-solidifies what it means to serve and protect. It gives you a good feeling that what you are doing is appreciated and people know we are here for the right reasons," said Shortway.
North Las Vegas Police Officer Noah Bennett traveled to Baton Rouge with a special tribute: a wooden plaque for the officers, a cross for their families. He and his wife own a non-profit called Hearts and Crosses. They do this to honor all slain officers.
"We worked all week on it and got it done to bring to them that way it gives them some closure," said Bennett.
The community gathered outside to show their support and to offer them a little southern hospitality.
"They are thanking us and we came out here to thank them and they put their hands out first thanking us for coming," said Carlton Haycook of North Las Vegas PD.
While they were no doubt outnumbered by law enforcement, there were plenty of everyday people along the processional route to thank officers for their service. Their presence was a warm welcome home for retired New York Police Department highway patrolman, Steve Brooks, who says he's said goodbye to too many officers taken away too soon.
"I hope it stops. I hope it stops now. Police officers are always going to be killed in the line of duty, they always were always will, but the targeted, unfair targeting is just horrendous and as you can see today, we are going to stand together and police officers aren't going to take it," Brooks said.
It is clear they support one another. They stand stronger than ever. They have been called to protect and serve, and they say that is what their fallen brothers would want them to continue to do long after they sign off.
For more information about Hearts and Crosses, click here.