Dozens of Minnesotans gathered outside the state Capitol Saturday to honor police officers who were killed in the line of duty.
The vigil comes after local and national police brutality protests, the random killing of two New York City police officers and one day after a veteran St. Paul officer was shot in the face with an air rifle during a wellness check.
"We wanted to do something that would show some solidarity for our law enforcement community and our officers to let them know they are appreciated," Melanie Snyder, of the Minnesota Chapter of Wives Behind the Badge, which helped organize Saturday night's vigil with Backing the Blue Line, told the Pioneer Press.
Organizers hope there can be more honest and productive dialogue to help communities heal from these recent incidents.
"I like the idea of more open dialog and conversations," Officer Grant Snyder told WCCO. "I think the biggest thing we can do as police to try to engage the public in our jobs is exactly what's happening here, and that's to get a conversation started and start that conversation based on empathy."
During the vigil, officers and supporters held glow sticks as the names of officers who lost their lives in the line of duty this year were read aloud, including Mendota Heights Officer Scott Patrick, who was fatally shot in July during a routine traffic stop.
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A similar event took place outside the Rice County Courthouse Saturday, which attracted over 80 people showing their support for law enforcement officials, the Faribault Daily News reports.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reports 126 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2014, which is a 24 percent increase compared to the 102 killed in 2013.