The men and women who are involved in law enforcement just might have the most thankless jobs in America.
You see them everywhere, at all times of the day or night, walking the beat or patrolling in a car. Their work is vital to ensure the laws that allow our society to function are enforced, even if it means stepping into harm's way and laying down their life to protect the lives of others.
Local police officers who have died in the line of duty will be honored when the annual Peace Officers Memorial Day Service is held at 9 a.m. Friday at the flagpole at Historic Fort Steuben. That ceremony will offer the chance to remember the sacrifices of the six Steubenville officers, two Mingo Junction officers and one Toronto officer who have been killed in the line of duty.
The service presents a chance to remember and to reflect on the risks that are inherent in police work. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, during the last 10 years, one officer has been killed in the line of duty in the United States every 58 hours. Since the first known death was recorded in 1791, more than 20,000 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty.
Last year, 100 officers died in the line of duty, and their names will be among those added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., as part of National Police Week, which begins Sunday and runs through May 17.
Of the 100 officers who lost their lives last year, 31 were shot to death, 28 died in auto crashes, 13 died from job-related illnesses, 11 died as a result of being struck by a vehicle, six died in falls, four died in motorcycle crashes, two died as a result of drowning, two died as the result of a stabbing and one each died as a result of an aircraft accident, a bomb-related incident and electrocution. Four of the fallen officers were female.
Since the first numbers were recorded, Texas has lost 1,675 officers in the line of duty, more than any other state. Vermont has had the fewest deaths with 22. In our region, Ohio has lost 773 officers, Pennsylvania has lost 755 officers and West Virginia has lost 175 officers.
We ask everyone to take a moment to remember the dedication and sacrifice of the men and women who work day and night, 365 days a year to enforce our laws and keep our communities safe.