CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A beloved Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer was honored Saturday during the Charlotte Knights game.

Officer Julio Herrera passed away in Oct. 2021 – just four months shy of hanging his uniform up for good.

“It was awesome. He would’ve been very proud of me,” Beth Herrera said.

Herrera loved the Charlotte Knights — Beth says they took their two sons to games often when they were younger. She threw out the first pitch Saturday to celebrate his legacy in the community.

He served the Charlotte community for 28 years — with 25 of those he spent as a school resource officer at Providence High and Ardery Kell High. He also served 10 years at Providence, the rest at Ardrey Kell.

That’s where Herrera stayed for 15 years until his unfortunate passing.

During his career, Herrera achieved many accomplishments, some of which include:

  • CMPD – 2 TIME SRO OF THE YEAR
  • LIFE-SAVING AWARD
  • CRIME STOPPERS AWARD
  • COMMUNITY RELATIONS AWARD

Herrera was the longest-tenured SRO in North Carolina. He was highly respected and was chosen to visit Belarus and Russia to help set up and implement the School Resource Officer program in these countries.

“There are two plus generations of alumni from Providence and Ardrey Kell High Schools that Julio had a huge impact on,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Lt. Bryan Crum, Providence High School Class of 2002. “Julio was special and always took the time to mentor students both in the school and on the playing fields. I’m grateful to see so many organizations, especially the Charlotte Knights helping to honor Julio and providing their support for his family.”

“Julio was a great man,” Herrera said. “He loved working with youth and young adults, that was his passion and I think he leaves a great legacy in that.”

His biggest goal was to always make sure the youth in his life succeeded.

“He actually had a tag line that is now memorialized with him. He always used to tell his students ‘you can always do better’ and so I’m trying to get that out to the community,” Herrera said.

Charlotte Salutes Heroes has helped the Herrera family through the loss of their father and husband with donations collected through their annual public safety hockey game. 

“I just hope that people acknowledge that public safety professionals are human as well… and support like this is awesome. Any time we can have an outpouring of support for situations like Julio’s and his family, it’s great to get this kind of publicity and just the word out.”

“I’m very grateful and humbled… he would’ve loved it,” Herrera said. 

Prior to becoming a Charlotte police officer – Herrera was a standout soccer player as a youth and attended Belmont Abbey College where he scored many goals. Herrera played soccer at Belmont Abbey College from 1986 to 1990. Julio’s name is all over the record books at Belmont Abbey College.

He was recently volunteering as a coach at Belmont Abbey with players on the college’s developmental team.

The foundation is also working to get Charlotte FC to commemorate his legacy as well simply because Herrera was an amazing soccer player.