MIAMI COUNTY — Gathered on the Miami County Courthouse Plaza to remember and honor law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty, the community honored and prayed for those who serve the community each day on Wednesday.
Miami County Municipal Court Judge Elizabeth Gutmann and Attorney General Mike DeWine were the keynote speakers for the ceremony.
Gutmann, who is serving her last term as judge after 18 years, recalled the hundreds of law enforcement officers she has met over the years and their tireless dedication to their profession.
“During these many interactions, I’ve learned a great deal about their character, work ethic, commitment to their profession and the communities they serve,” she said.
Gutmann noted how a law enforcement officer’s day brings unexpected events and how she respects an officer’s personal and family sacrifices — from missing family events to being subjected to physical and verbal abuse on the job — to serve their community each day.
Gutmann reminded the community of the daily duties officers perform such as responding to the scenes of homicide, child abuse and fatal accidents and other tragedies big and small.
“These traumatic and tragic events go on day after day in all parts of our county, state and country. The great majority of us are somewhat oblivious and that is a blessing. We are safe in our homes and we go on with our lives and that’s how law enforcement wants it to be — that is their unique burden,” she said.
“Here in Miami County we have lost seven fine officers in the line of duty. They have made the ultimate sacrifice. The rest of our law enforcement community continues to sacrifice day after day in ways most of us can not imagine. That is why I ask you all to thank them and pray for them. They need our support.”
Gutmann closed with remarks that former President George W. Bush made at the service honoring the five police officers killed in Dallas in July 2016.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine spoke of his early interaction with law enforcement as an assistant prosecutor in Greene County. He spoke fondly of officers who took him under their wing and taught him.
“It was my privilege to ride with them, work on cases with them, to go to the scenes of crimes with them and to learn every single day from them,” he said.
DeWine said the officers taught him about the ins and outs of the criminal justice system and what it meant to serve as a police officer. DeWine shared stories of two officers who were role models to him: the late Yellow Springs Chief Jim McKee and the late Greene County Sheriff Russ Bradley.
“They had what every good police officer has — that is the ability to treat people fairly, humanely and to frankly, just know how to deal with people,” DeWine said. “So as we reflect upon today on the Miami County law enforcement officers who gave their lives to protect the families around them, to protect their communities, we remember them not just as officers but remember them as people. People whose lives were given to God, much, much too soon.”
DeWine said, “We can never fully repay these officers or their families. But the best we can do is to honor their commitment and their sacrifice. Remember how they embraced their oath of service with courage, with clarity and conviction and pray that those they left behind find some measure of peace and comfort.”
DeWine thanked law enforcement officers in attendance for their service to their community, their country and to the people of Ohio.
Billie Ray, President of the FOP Lodge 58, also remembered the late Miami County Sheriff Charles Cox and his service to the county in his closing remarks.
Police agency representatives then took turns reading the names of the seven fallen officers in Miami County and retold each story of how the officer died in the line of duty. Those honored were Marshall Harvey Hake of the Covington Police Department, who died Jan. 12,1917, and Patrolman George Eickmeyer of the Tipp City Police Department, who died Sept. 17, 1945.
Representatives of the Piqua Police Department honored Lt. Noah D. Studebaker, who died Oct. 17,1957; Patrolman Jan Mulder II, Aug. 11, 1970; and Detective Robert C. Taylor, Nov. 3, 1982.
Miami County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dave Duchak read the names of Sgt. William R. “Bill” Morris and Sgt. Robert L. Elliott, who were killed on Nov. 22, 1972, and Feb. 25, 1987, respectively.
The families of the seven fallen were escorted by police officers to the memorial to lay flowers. Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Ret. Sgt. Del Braund performed “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes, which was followed by the Honor Guard’s 21-gun salute. Piqua Police Department’s Officer Brent Marrs performed “Taps.”
The National Police Memorial Day will be held May 15.
Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews