Remembering those who protect us

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.

Officers who have died will be remembered in local services next week.

At 11 a.m. Monday, fallen officers will be remembered in front of the Weirton City Building. And then at 9 a.m. Wednesday, officers who have died in the line of duty in the Steubenville area will be honored when the annual Peace Officers Memorial Day Service is conducted at the flagpole at Historic Fort Steuben. That ceremony will offer the chance to remember the sacrifices of the officers from Steubenville, Mingo Junction, Toronto and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department who have been killed in the line of duty.

Organizing the event once again is city Patrolmen Jim Marquis, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1.

The service offers 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 55 hours. Since the first known death was recorded in 1786, nearly 22,000 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty.

Last year, 158 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 18.

Of the officers who lost their lives last year, 53 were shot to death, 48 died from job-related illnesses, 31 died in auto crashes, 14 died as a result of being struck by a vehicle, four died in motorcycle crashes, four died as a result of drowning, two were beaten to death and two died after being struck by a train. Eleven of the fallen officers were female.

Since the first numbers were recorded, Texas has lost 1,751 officers in the line of duty, more than any other state. Vermont has had the fewest deaths, 24. In our region, Pennsylvania has lost 942 officers, Ohio has lost 810 officers and West Virginia has lost 181 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.