A solemn ceremony

HONOR — Steubenville Patrolmen Mason Gambos, left, and John Levy raise the flag Wednesday at Fort Steuben Park during Peace Officers Memorial Day, a nationwide celebration honoring officers killed in the line of duty. Last year, 163 police officers were killed in the U.S., 52 of them by gunfire. Twenty-seven others succumbed to 9-11 related illnesses. -- Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — Local law enforcement representatives gathered Wednesday morning in Fort Steuben Park to remember the 10 officers locally who have died in the line of duty since 1908.

Patrolman Jim Marquis, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1, told those attending Wednesday’s Peace Officers Memorial Day observance that 163 officers had died on the job in 2018 — 52 from gunfire, 27 from 9-11 related illnesses, 26 from automobile accidents and 18 from heart attacks.

“The highest month in 2018 was May, when 22 officers lost their lives,” he said. “Followed by March and July, with 16.”

Marquis said the most dangerous state for police was New York, where 23 officers lost their lives in 2018. California, Florida, Texas and the U.S. government were high on the list, too.

He said four officers in Ohio lost their lives last year — one in Cleveland, one in Mentor and two in Westerville.

They were gunned down in February while responding to a 9-1-1 hangup call from an address with a history of domestic disturbance calls.

The average age of the fallen officers across the nation “was about 42,” he said.

“Not to forget our canine officers,” he added. “In 2018, 29 canines were killed — seven of them by gunfire.”

Patrolman Eric Hart read the names of the 10 fallen officers — Michael Brandle (Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department); Ralph Benton Miller (Toronto); William J. Snider and Michael J. Maguschak (Mingo Junction); and Leslie J. McDonald, Lafayette Mercer, Owen Burns, Scott Roe, Leonard Lamatrice and Thomas McGough (Steubenville) — pausing only long enough for Lee McCarthy, Miller’s nephew, to toll the bell for each. Miller, 66, was killed in 1988 when a suspect trying to evade police rammed his cruiser, propelling the vehicle into him.

Marquis said it’s the third year Lodge 1 honored its fallen comrades by inviting their family members to toll the bell after each name was called out.

“The first year we started the bell we had Chief Mike Maguschak from the Mingo Junction police department,” he said. “Last year, we had Lori Lamatrice ring it — her father, Leonard, was a Steubenville officer burned to death after responding to a gas tanker truck accident.”

Marquis said there’s no denying law enforcement is dangerous.

“You never know,” said Marquis, a 29-year veteran. “Outside of the old coal mines, it’s got to be the highest risk (job). A lot of us don’t think about it when we walk out the door, but you never know. You just hope somebody has your back and you have another officer’s back.”

Mayor Jerry Barilla urged the public to “be especially mindful of the 163 officers who laid down their lives last year.”

“They served with dedication and strength, fearless safeguards of our laws, our liberty and our lives,” he said, reading from a proclamation he’d signed in honor of the fallen.