CHICAGO - There are hundreds of active and retired law enforcement officers who live in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood, and a lot of them gathered outside 22nd District Police Headquarters to mourn the death of officer Ella French.
One of the department chaplains described this as one of the most difficult times to be a Chicago Police Officer in recent memory.
"Today, as a community, we grieve," said Kimberly Lewis-Davis, one of six Chicago Police Department Chaplains, who led Wednesday night's service.
"We support all police. We know that they put their lives on the line every day," said Tracy McDermott, who was among hundreds of Mount Greenwood residents in attendance outside the police station.
"I am forever indebted to the police department. This was an atrocious act and I came here to support with love and with God in my heart," said Sherry Gorski of Beverly.
French, 29, was remembered for her optimism and hope, being "the best this city has to offer," and "truly Chicago's finest."
"We saw her excitement for life and her willingness to serve," Lewis-Davis told the crowd. "We saw her effervescent spirit, saw the light in her eyes and her infectious laugh."
French's death comes at a time when officers are being targeted by shooters at a disturbingly high rate: 38 times so far this year, with 11 shot.
"We came to say prayers for Ella, for sure, and all the other police officers around," said McDermott.
Ald. Derrick Curtis of the 18th Ward was in attendance.
"I had to be here to support the family and the other officers because it's a trying time right now. We are in a trying time," said Ald. Curtis.
Officer French is the first Chicago Police Officer killed in the line of duty in 2021.
Last year, 79 officers were shot or shot at while in the line of duty.