Police Memorial honored officers who have died in the line of duty


Twelve Wood County law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty in the last 128 years and they along with those still serving were honored Thursday at the county’s annual Police Memorial.

“The profession of peace officer is almost unique in that its nature provides the risk of death in every interaction. Every vehicle stopped, every person patted down, every pursuit engaged, every crowd controlled, ever home entered offers the chance of a deadly encounter,” said Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson.

Officers put a target on themselves every day in the shape of a star or shield, said Dobson, who presented the memorial speech.

He quoted President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, given Nov. 19, 1863: “We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add and detract.”

“We cannot consecrate this day any more than the men and women who have given their lives in the defense and protection of the citizens of this county, this state, this nation …” Dobson said.

This is not a day for us to remember or thank. It is a day for them to be remembered and to be thanked, he said.

Dobson has never been a law enforcement officer but, “we catch a glimpse of the value and the strength of the thin blue line,” he said.

He listed the scenes he has witnessed, including officers combing through a dirty hotel room looking for evidence in a murder case, analyzing video footage to prove a rape case, the emotional aftermath of a child abduction that turned deadly, and getting a confession from the killer of a young man stabbed to death in a car.

“It’s been many years since this county had to recover from an on-duty death of one of its peace officers but only because that deadly strike has on more than one occasion missed by only inches,” Dobson said.

“I did not know any of the fallen officers honored here today, but their voices still speak to us,” he said, and added let us resolve these dead have not died in vain.

“Reading the names on this monument and sharing their heroic stories ensures they will never be forgotten,” said Ohio State Patrol Sgt. Matthew Geer. “Because of all of you, we have ensured the legacies of these men will go on forever.

“No matter what we say here today will never truly be enough to recognize these brave men who gave everything. We must continue to come together to grieve, to comfort one another, pay respect for the fallen and also pause and give respect to the current men and women in uniform,” he said.

Those in law enforcement know someday they may have to lay down their lives for fellow Ohioans, Geer said.

“There are few professions where you deliberately and purposely put yourself in danger for the fellow man,” he said.

Bowling Green Mayor Mike Aspacher and Wood County Commissioners Craig LaHote and Doris Herringshaw presented proclamations.

This community takes great pride in the Bowling Green Police Division, Aspacher said, and he proclaimed the week of May 12, 2024, to be National Police Week in the city.

“We thank all law enforcement officers assembled here today and all those who serve currently and have served in the past for your important role in our community,” he said.

LaHote thanked all law enforcement for what they do.

“You’ve chosen a difficult profession; we know it puts a lot of stress on you and your family,” he said.

“The people of Wood County are fortunate to have such devoted officers to safeguard their lives and property in all five cities, 21 villages and 19 townships,” LaHote said.

The commissioners proclaimed May 16, 2024, to be designated as a day to pay tribute to all law enforcement officers.

Rossford City Police Office Jodi Johnson rang the bell 12 times for every county officer whose end of watch occurred while on duty.

Euclid officer Jacob Derbin also was remembered. He was ambushed and shot last Saturday while responding to a domestic violence incident.

“It’s so important that not just during Police Week but every week, every day we need to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives,” said Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn after the ceremony. “We always have to keep in mind that some people are not going home at the end of the day … and it touches a lot of lives.”

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