Officers who lost their lives serving and protecting Lorain County residents will be honored next week with a ceremony in downtown Wellington.
Each year, honor guards lay wreaths and offer respects at the Lorain County Police Memorial.
The 2016 observances will begin with a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m . on Tuesday, May 10 in front of Wellington town hall. A formal ceremony will follow at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11.
New this year, organizers plan to recognize officers from Lorain County who died in the line of duty in jurisdictions outside the county.
A dinner will follow the memorial for police, retired police, and police families at the Wellington Eagles. The Spirit of ‘76 Museum will have a display at the Eagles that will include the revolver that killed Wellington marshal George Brenner in 1883, and the uniform worn by Wellington officer Edmund Smith when he was shot and killed in May of 1957.
Both Brenner and Smith will be memorialized during the ceremony.
Deceased officers will also be honored from Amherst and Oberlin:
• Amherst police officer Rupert Becker was killed in 1916 while working as a night watchman. Becker was shot four times when he tried to calm a man who was creating a disturbance at a Church Street bar. He died a week later.
• Oberlin officer Robert Woodall died on duty in 1957 when his patrol car slid on an icy road and struck a tree.
There are roughly 750,000 sworn law enforcement officers in 18,000 agencies nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
So far in 2016, there have been 32 line of duty deaths. By far the leading cause has been gunfire (16 incidents) with car crashes in second place (six deaths), according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks such tragedies.
The ODMP noted 128 line of duty deaths in 2015, including 39 by gunfire, 27 by crashes, and 17 by heart attack. Other tops contributors were vehicular assault, (eight), 9/11 related illnesses (six), and bombs (six).
The most recent loss came April 27 when K-9 Aldo, a seven-year-old Belgian malinois in the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake in Utah, was shot and killed while helping to serve a warrant on a man wanted for aggravated assault of a police officer.
The most recent human death was U.S. Border Patrol agent Jose Barraza, 29, on April 18. He was killed in a crash near Fort Hancock, Texas, in which is K-9 partner was also injured.
In Ohio, Columbus police officer Steven Smith, 54, is the most recent casualty. He died April 12 of gunshot wounds sustained when his SWAT team attempted to serve a warrant for felony arson.
Lorain County officers offer a rifle salute during the 2015 ceremony to honor fallen comrades-in-arms.