SAN MARCOS, Texas - Hundreds of law enforcement officers gathered in San Marcos Saturday for the Combined Law Enforcement Association Of Texas, or CLEAT, convention, an annual convention, training and awards ceremony honoring first responders.
Two mass shootings that took place in the state this summer and several others that occurred in recent years were seemingly at the forefront of attendees' minds.
"Sutherland Springs, and Santa Fe school district, and El Paso and in Odessa," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said at the event. "Those are four major shooting events. And of course, after each one of them the first question that seems to come to my mind is ‘why?' The second question that comes to my mind, is ‘what?' What can we possibly do to prevent something like this from happening again."
Several officers involved in recent mass shootings were honored, including Officer Mark Campos of the El Paso Police Department who responded to the Walmart shooting off-duty and was one of the first officers on scene.
"When you walk into a community place where everybody kind of knows each other like El Paso. And, you're stepping over 20 dead bodies. You're stepping over 26 people who have gunshot wounds," Sgt. Ron Martin said before giving Campos the "Officer of the Year" award. "You're carrying or trying to go around children who have been shot. And you have a job to do, you have to bypass the victim and clear the store."
Martin serves as president of the El Paso Police Officers Association.
"We saw a lot of things that you know, you don't want to see but these officers like Ron [Martin] said, they went in, they did their job, and we were there to help the community." said Campos.
As for hometown heroes, three Austin police officers were awarded for a swift water rescue they carried out in May.
"I'm not talking about myself, but there were some true heroes in this room tonight," said Austin Police Department SPO Benjamin Cochran.