YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — After a year’s absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Fallen Officers Memorial ceremony was held Thursday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.
The service, put on by the Fraternal Order of Police lodges for the Youngstown and Youngstown State University police departments and the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, honors the 27 officers in the area who have died in the line of duty since 1891.
Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel told the crowd that police officers exemplify the best of what society has to offer because of the sacrifices they make to keep the community safe.
“The only way we’ll have a chance in society is if we’re led by selfless people,” Tressel said.
The officers who lost their lives on duty are the epitome of selflessness, Tressel said.
“Today, we’re reminded we have been blessed,” Tressel said. “We’ve been blessed by the ultimate, selfless people.”
Marion police Chief Jay McDonald, who is also the national vice president of the FOP, said there are over 22,000 officers whose names are inscribed on the memorial for fallen officers in Washington D.C.
“That’s 22,000 men and women who sacrificed watching their children grow up or sacrificed growing old with their spouse,” McDonald said.
Boardman police Chief Todd Werth also spoke, saying that despite demonstrations in some cities within the last year against police and their tactics, he wanted those in attendance to know that the vast majority of people support them and that law enforcement is still an honorable profession.
The last officer to die in the line of duty was Justin Leo, 31, of Girard, who was shot to death Oct. 21, 2017, while responding to a domestic violence call.
The first recorded officer to die in the line of duty was William Freed of the Youngstown Police Department, who was killed May 17, 1891.
Of the 27 officers who died in the line of duty, 14 of those officers served with the Youngstown Police Department.