ST. CLAIRSVILLE - In any community, it's a difficult job to protect and serve. In fact there have been many lives lost in the line of duty over the years.
Since the first recorded death of a policeman in 1791, more than 19,000 law enforcement officers in the United States have made the ultimate sacrifice. These tragedies have touched communities across the country, including the local community.
On Tuesday, Belmont County Commissioners issued a proclamation honoring National Police Week, recognizing May 15-21 as a time to salute law enforcement officers for the work they do.
T-L Photo/ERIC AYRES
OFFICIALS IN Belmont County recognized May 15-21 as National Police Week, saluting law enforcement officers in the community and across the nation for their service. From left are Belmont County Commissioner Chuck Probst, acting Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland, and Commissioners Ginny Favede and Matt Coffland. See image at cu.timesleaderonline.com
There are approximately 900,000 law enforcement officers serving in communities across the nation, including dedicated members serving in agencies within Belmont County, officials noted.
Each year, some 60,000 assaults against law enforcement officers are reported, resulting in approximately 16,000 injuries.
Names of those public servants killed in the line of duty are engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
This year, 317 new names of fallen heroes are being added to the memorial, including 153 officers killed in 2010 and 164 officers killed in previous years.
The service and sacrifice of all officers killed in the line of duty will be honored during the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund's 23rd annual candlelight vigil to be held this Friday evening as a kickoff to National Police Week. May 15 is designated as Pease Officers Memorial Day in honor of all fallen officers and their families.
In the local community, there are friends, family members and fellow officers who still feel the loss of a fallen hero.
Mickey McMillan served as an officer with the Martins Ferry Police Department in 1971-72 before joining the Belmont County Sheriff's Office under then Sheriff Kathy Crumbley. On Dec. 23, 1979, while trying to apprehend three shoplifters at the old Harts store Wolfhurst, McMillan was killed.
Former officer and current Martins Ferry Council Member Bill Weekley was his partner.
Acting Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland said there are plans to erect a plaque in McMillan's honor at the Belmont County Sheriff's Office on behalf of the local officers, Weekley and members of the McMillan family.
"I know it means a great deal to them," said Commissioner Ginny Favede. "It means a great deal to the community."
Commissioners presented the proclamation honoring National Police Week 2011 to McFarland. A proclamation from the Ohio House of Representatives from Ohio Rep. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) was also presented.
"He's fighting for law enforcement day in and day out," Commissioner Chuck Probst said of Gentile. "He wants to make sure our local forces have all the proper gear and safety equipment."
Commissioner Matt Coffland said the local law enforcement agents have a tough job that all too often goes without thanks. Officials urged the public to thank officers in the community for the services they provide.
"I think we all agree that these unsung heroes play a very important roll," said Probst. "I can't imagine what you face every day. When you go out on a call, you never really know what's going to happen. We do commend you the efforts you put forth on behalf of the residents of Belmont County."
Ayres can be reached at email@example.com.