Ceremony recognizes Lowcountry's fallen officers

Members of the Lowcountry Honor Guard escort survivors including, Teresa Damato who's father State Constable Robert Lee Bailey was murdered on May 14th, 2007, to her seat during the annual Lowcountry Fraternal Order of Police Law Enforcement Memorial held at the Felix C. Davis Community Center Wednesday May 14, 2014. Grace Beahm/Staff

Betsy Love of Lexington fought back tears Wednesday at the memory of her oldest son, Perrin Richard Love II.

It's been 15 years since she received word that the 26-year-old Charleston police officer was accidentally shot and killed by his partner while working a domestic dispute on James Island. The pain, however, is still raw, she said.

"As a mother, it never goes away," Love said. Her son was killed before completing his first year on the job.

Love stood in his honor at the Tri-County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony held Wednesday at Park Circle in North Charleston. The ceremony recognized the 61 Lowcountry lawmen who have died in the line of duty.

This year's event featured a procession by various members of area law enforcement, prayers, a 21-gun salute, and the playing of Taps.

In a keynote speech, Mount Pleasant Police Chief Carl Ritchie recalled the death of his friend, Westminster police officer William Joseph Werner IV. Werner was struck and killed by a drunk driver in 1991.

"We told each other we'd have each other's backs," Ritchie told a gathered crowd of more than 100 people. "He paid the ultimate price. Every day Bill will have my back."

Family members of the fallen were each presented a red rose recognizing their loved ones's sacrifice.

Mary Anne Deese, the mother of Dorchester County sheriff's deputy Phillip Michael Deese, clutched her rose in one hand and a tissue in the other while speaking of her son's unexpected death. Phillip Deese and his K-9 partner were killed in a head-on collision on Interstate 26 in 2007.

"It's always emotional. The pain doesn't go away. You deal with it, but it doesn't go away," she said, adding that the support they've received over the years from other lawmen has eased the weight of her family's grief.

"They wrapped their arms around us and carried us," she said. "They still do."

Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.