The Huntsville Police Department is honoring 11 officers that died in the line of duty with a special Christmas tree. It's part of the ninth annual downtown Huntsville Tinsel Trail.
There are 300 trees on the trail but one of them has a truly significant meaning. Family members of fallen Huntsville Police officers were side by side current officers. Together, they placed ornaments on the tree that had a picture, name, and date of when the officer died on duty. It was the first time the department turned their tree into this memorial.
For one family, the night was truly special.
"He was one of those people that, you laugh when you were around him," Emily Freeman, who lost her father, said.
December 15th, 2007. Huntsville Police officer William Eric Freeman was shot and killed while responding to a call. Just before the holidays, he was taken away from his family.
"I think that the tree is a very great way to keep these people in the public's memory, especially around the season," Freeman said.
Lieutenant Michael Johnson says his team knows the safety risks they take to protect the community. Just Thursday night, a Huntsville Police officer responded to a call of a suspicious person in a car on Westmill Drive.
Police say the suspect got out of his car at one point and fired shots at the officer. Johnson says the officer wasn't injured, but they could have been remembering 12 fallen officers tonight instead of 11.
"We know the danger is out there everyday. The ambush that occurred on the officer yesterday is another prime example anything can happen at any time," Johnson said.
The police department gave Freeman and each family the same ornament that went on the Fallen Officers Tree. Freeman says it will be the first decoration on her own tree.
"It's definitely something I think my family and I, we're going to cherish for awhile," Freeman said.
The Fallen Officer Tree is located near the giant Mayor's Christmas tree in the back of the trail. The Tinsel Trail will close after January 1st.