They spent years of their lives walking the streets of Dallas, working to keep the city safe.
On Wednesday, police and fire retirees, as well as members of about a dozen police and fire associations, took to those streets again to raise awareness of the growing crisis surrounding their pensions.
"A promise was made to us when we came on," said Thomas Glover, president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas. "We kept our promise. We kept the city safe. This is not right what's happening."
With their pensions hanging in the balance, hundreds marched to City Hall, where they called on leaders to fix the failing system and called out those who they believe are holding up that process.
"The mayor doesn't care," said Pete Bailey, president of the Dallas Police Retired Officers Association. "His end game is to bankrupt this pension, leave all these people out to dry, and create a new pension system."
Mayor Mike Rawlings has expressed his opposition to proposed fixes that would require the city to pump hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into the pension fund. He's also pushed for greater city control of the pension board – both sticking points that have stalled negotiations.
The city is currently working with state leaders in Austin on legislation that could serve as a starting point.
In a statement released Wednesday, Rawlings said:
The latest news from around North Texas.
"I'm empathetic to what Dallas police officers and firefighters are going through, and I accept that they have focused much of their anger toward me. That comes with the territory of being mayor as this crisis has unfolded.
"But I have never viewed the failure of the Dallas Police & Fire Pension Fund as an option. Every action I have taken regarding the fund in my six years as mayor has been part of an effort to save it. The Dallas City Council continues to be aligned around that goal. We also believe the fair solution to this pension crisis should not be in the form of a taxpayer bailout and must include proper governance. That's why we remain hopeful that our proposed changes to Chairman Flynn's pension bill will ultimately be accepted."
The retirees and associations insist they've made concessions and are now asking the public to turn up the pressure on City Hall.
"We need you to help us to push back," said Michael Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association.
They say this crisis is not only affecting retirees, but is now having a dire impact on current first responders as well.
They placed 694 pairs of boots on the plaza of City Hall – one for each officer that has left the police department in the midst of the ordeal. They say many of them have gone elsewhere because of the pension problem.
"Let's sit at the table and let's talk," said Glover.