CLEVELAND (WJW) – National Police Week gets underway in Cleveland with an emotional ceremony paying tribute to those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Dozens gathered in Huntington Park Monday night near the Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial for the annual candlelight vigil and end of watch roll call.
“This is part of our healing. Our grief is very difficult and when we come here, it’s good to see people still care,” said Jackie Ketterer, mother of Cleveland Police Officer David Fahey, Jr. who was killed in the line of duty on I-90 in 2017.
One by one, the names of the 192 fallen officers were read aloud by FOX 8’s Todd Meany.
Some of the names go back more than a century and come from across Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lake, Geauga, Summit and Medina counties.
Joe Mannion, president of the Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial Society, says the event, which included more than 30 people, honors a promise to never forget.
“Survivors feel that as long as their name is read once a year, they’re never going to be forgotten,” said Mannion, who is also a retired Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper who lost a dear friend.
“When I first took over as president, the first name I put on the wall was a trooper, a fellow officer, Trooper Kenny Velez, and that was hard,” said Mannion. “It was like, man, I worked with Kenny my whole career.”
A bell tolled and bagpipes were played as part of the moving tribute, which is one of several events planned this week.
A larger ceremony will be held Friday morning, starting with a public parade honoring all who wear the badge at 10:30 a.m. and then a memorial at 11:30 a.m. at Police Memorial Square or Huntington Park.
They say although their loved ones’ “watch” may have ended, it’s comforting to see their memory and service will always live on.
“It helps just knowing that he isn’t forgotten and that his sacrifice and heroism is still respected by the community,” said Ketterer, who also worked for the police department along with her husband and another son who is still serving.