They’ve gathered annually, solemnly for one simple reason at the Crawford County Courthouse each May for more than 30 years.
“Lest we forget,” Patrolman Dorian Adamik of Cambridge Springs Police Department said to the crowd of about 70 marking the annual local observance of Police Memorial Day.
On Wednesday, more than two dozen law enforcement officers were in attendance along with about 40 others for the simple service conducted outside the courthouse in Meadville at noon.
Dressed either in their police uniforms or in plain clothes, law enforcement personnel from around the county stood at attention to pay respect to fellow officers who have died in the line of duty. Each officer’s badge had a black stripe across it in remembrance of fallen officers.
There were 129 officers killed nationwide in the line of duty in the past year with six of those deaths in Pennsylvania, Adamik, president of Lodge 108 of the Fraternal Order of Police, said.
“While some would say that this is a relatively small percentage, and that we should be happy that the number wasn’t higher, I would say that even one is too many,” Adamik said. “The loss of even one officer bears too great a cost. That cost can be seen in the tears of loved ones left behind and in the eyes of fellow officers that surely wish they could have done more to prevent such a tragedy.”
Every time a police officer is killed, it’s a reminder of how dangerous it is to be a police office, Francis Schultz, the county’s district attorney, said at Wednesday’s service.
“Being a police officer is not the job for everyone,” Schultz said. “It takes a special person to put on the uniform and badge of a police officer and to go to work every day never knowing what danger waits.”
Three members of local and regional law enforcement have been killed in the line of duty since 2000, Schultz said.
In 2000, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Matthew Bond of Meadville was killed in Erie County while assisting a motorist in a snow storm.
In 2003, Trooper Brian Patterson of Titusville was killed in Venango County while investigating a traffic crash.
In 2010, Trooper Paul Richey was shot and killed responding to a domestic disturbance in Venango County.
Wednesday, however, wasn’t just a day of sadness, according to Schultz.
“Police Memorial Day not only gives us the opportunity to honor the fallen, it also gives us the opportunity to thank our Crawford County law enforcement community for their dedicated service this past year,” Schultz said. “Through their efforts, they help make Crawford County a special place to live.”
Wednesday’s ceremony closed with a rifle salute to fallen officers outside the courthouse and the playing of “Taps.”
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.