Bradenton officer honored on D.C. monument 84 years after death

- It has taken more than 80 years for one Bradenton police officer to be recognized after losing his life in the line of duty.

Last year, officers attending National Police Week in Washington, D.C. realized Steve Bennet's name was not on the memorial wall.

They wanted to make sure this year, it will be.

Pictures and a few fading memories are all friends and family have left to bring Bradenton Police Officer Steve Bennett back to life, 84 years after his death.

There's a trait that sticks out to his niece, Jane and great-nieces Wylene and Peggy – his hat.

“That hat cocked to one side. He does everyone to one side.”

In 1934, Officer Bennett died during a crash in his patrol car. He was on the force 10 years.

His niece, Jane was four at the time and remembers the pain.

"I thought he was very special," she says. "It was just a horrible thing that happened."

Over the decades, the Bennett family grew and names changed but, last year, Officer Bennett's name came up when Bradenton officers participated in the Law Enforcement United Ride.

Lieutenant Jim Racky was part of the group that rode to the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial.

It recognizes all those killed in the line of duty. That’s when they realized Officer Bennett's name was missing.

“The past several 20, 30 years that the wall has been up there, he has not been acknowledged," Lt. Racky said.

They began working to get his name inscribed.

“It doesn't minimize over the years and it shouldn't to us. These officers gave their lives to the residents of the city of Bradenton. They paved the way within our agency for who we are today," Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan said.

And one year later his name will be unveiled.

“I’m just going to be glad, maybe that's better than sad, to know his name is going to be there forever and always," Peggy said.

Officer Steve Bennett will join the list of more than 20,000 heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“It just means a great deal. I just thank the Lord I can call him one of ours,” Wylene said.

Bradenton police will send its Honor Guard to accompany Officer Bennett's family to the memorial.

Next Sunday, his name will be read aloud. Even though he was killed decades ago, he'll join the list of officers who lost their lives this year.

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