WELLINGTON — For about a minute Tuesday night, all emergency radio traffic in Lorain County halted in remembrance of the officers lost throughout the years in the line of duty.
“268 to all units and listening agencies,” a county dispatcher said. “End of watch for our fallen Lorain County units. Gone but never forgotten. May they rest in peace.”
Wellington hosted this year’s candlelight vigil as part of the Lorain County Police Memorial and National Police Week.
“This is an honor for us,” Mayor Hans Schneider said. “I’m so thankful for the folks in our department that have worked tirelessly to make this vigil as perfect and beautiful as possible for those who have fallen.”
Schneider said it takes a special person to enter law enforcement, and many are able to come to their families every night safe and sound, but others are not so fortunate.
“Many people run away from danger, but police officers are tasked with running towards it,” he said. “It takes a special type of person who is willing to do that. Walks around our neighborhood that we take for granted are safe because of police. They put themselves at risk for our safety.”
Wellington Police Chief Tim Barfield read the names, departments and “end of watch” — the date of death — for all of Lorain County’s fallen officers.
The officers were: George Brenner, of Wellington; Spooner Crapo, of Rochester; Rupert Becker, of Amherst; David Barnes, New York Central Railroad; Fred Webber, of Lorain; Charles Deal, of Lorain; Franklin Strohl, of the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office; Howard Taft, of Elyria; George Kirk, of Lorain; Edmund Smith, of Wellington; Michael George, of the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office; John Palermo, of the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office; Robert Woodall, of Oberlin; Francis Smolka, of Vermilion; Kenneth Tomaszewski, of the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office; and James Kerstetter, of Elyria.
Barfield also recognized Lorain County residents who were killed in the line of duty in other jurisdictions, including Leonard Wilcox, of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs; Robert Perez Jr. of the Ohio Highway Patrol; Dyke “A.J” Coursen, of the Beaufort County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Office; and Jason West, of Cleveland Heights.
Brianna Walter, 18, lit the candle that began the vigil and said doing so was an honor.
“My dad’s a lieutenant for the Wellington police and asked me if I would be interested in helping out,” she said. “And I said, ‘Of course.’ ”
Walter said it’s important to remember that those in law enforcement and their families are automatically all connected and like a family because they all share the same hopes and concerns.
“When we all come together for something like this, it really shows that we’re all family,” she said. “And we must never forget the fallen,” she said.
The dispatcher’s message ended by saying the fallen officers are “37-43” — out of service, but home.