Brookfield Police Cpl. Scott Thompson said he has been to many funerals of fellow officers killed in the line of duty, and each one was deeply personal.
“Unfortunately, the violent nature of my profession has made this police memorial such a common occurrence,” he said May 22 at the annual memorial observance for Brookfield police, firefighters and members of the ladies auxiliary.
But the funeral of Justin Leo, a Girard policeman killed this year when he responded to a domestic call, hit home in a different way. Thompson said he knew Leo and had talked to him just two days before he was killed.
“This tragedy dispelled the myth that it cannot happen here,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, it did. A young officer struck down in the infancy of his career in our own community. Something like that really hits home.”
It brings home the danger of the job, which puts a spotlight on its importance.
“Those out protecting us today place themselves in harm’s way every day not knowing what cost they may pay,” said Police Chief Dan Faustino, noting that more than 21,500 police officers have been killed in the line of duty in the United States since 1791.
With a cost so potentially high, it’s important to know that the community is behind those willing to make this sacrifice, Faustino said.
“I thank you for taking time tonight to reflect on all the sacrifices made by those protecting our country, their communities and our community,” he said. “To those who have served or are now serving, I thank you, and I thank your families who serve right beside you. To those who might serve in the future, we need you. Your community needs you. Your country needs you.”
Firefighter Randy Richman defined the service as “paying our sincere respects to the memory of those departed police officers, firefighters and auxiliary members whose lives were dedicated to the service of others through their giving of themselves for the protection of life, property and the promotion of good will throughout our community.”
The service renews the dedication of those who serve, Richman said.
Police chaplain the Rev. Dan Cesene said the service shows faith that good beats evil and love conquers all.
“They’re not going to give up,” Cesene said of those honored. “They’re going to keep on going when no one else will. When someone says, ‘can’t,’ that’s just one more excuse for them to give it their best, and give it their all and keep on trying.”
“Lord, even as I sit here at the service, I’m listening to radios going off and people monitoring them, those listening for sirens,” he said during a prayer. “Father, there’s an attentive ear, because we’re full of faithful people who look for opportunities to serve.”