'Blue Mass' celebrated in honor of first responders in the greater Houston area

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The annual Blue Mass, honoring fallen first responders and those still serving, was celebrated Saturday evening at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Downtown Houston.

Law enforcement agencies from 10 counties came together for the annual event.

This year, the Mass took place just days after HPD Senior Officer William "Bill" Jeffrey was shot and killed while executing a warrant in Harris County.

HPD's Sgt. Michael Vance was also injured in the shooting.

"We are a strong agency," HPD Chief Troy Finner said before the event. "I'm so proud of the officers and what they do every day and we've been here before unfortunately, and every time there's an event like this, it draws us closer together. It makes us stronger, and that's the promise that I made to the Jeffrey family and also our Sgt. Vance (and) his family, and we're praying for them. But that's the promise we made to them. We are going to keep moving forward and keep protecting our city."

Deputy Barry Curtis, Chaplain and Clergy Liaison with Harris County Precinct 5, was one of the dozens of first responders present at the ceremony. He said he hopes the power of prayer will lift up the families of the fallen and the first responders who continue to serve their communities.

"It's a great feeling when you see folks behind you," Curtis said. "It's always encouraging to have support both amongst your fellow officers, but also the public at large, because we are here to serve the community. We love people. That's why most of us got into this position is to serve people and to protect people and to help them."

The death of Senior Officer Jeffrey marks HPD's fifth on-duty death within the last 16 months and the 120th HPD officer who has been killed in the line of the duty since 1860.
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