Fallen officers remembered in Miami County

ajc.com

Annual memorial service was held May 4.

TROY – Miami County saluted its fallen law enforcement officers May 4 during the annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service on the county Courthouse Plaza.

Earlier this year, a stone was added to the county Law Enforcement Memorial in honor of Kimra Skelton, a member of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Motor Enforcement Carrier Division. She died when struck by a vehicle Nov. 27, 2019, on Interstate 75 just north of the Ohio 41 interchange at Troy.

The Miami County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge last year said it was adding Skelton, an Arcanum area resident working from the Piqua OSHP post, to the memorial. She was the first officer in the county who died in the line of duty in more than 30 years.

The Law Enforcement Memorial was dedicated in 1999 to law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty and those who continue to risk their lives daily.

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While not a sworn law enforcement officer, Skelton worked closely with officers for years, said Jeff Waite, a Troy police officer serving as president of FOP Lodge 58. “The lodge felt Kimra Skelton deserved to be honored,” he said.

In 2021, the number of line of duty deaths nationwide totaled 585 officers. This was an increase of more than 55% from 2020 and attributed to factors including COVID-19, traffic fatalities and firearm ambushes.

Those attending the 2022 noon time memorial service witnessed the presentation of colors, a gun salute, prayers, a proclamation and the playing of Taps, among other activities. Sgt. Del Braund, retired, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.

This year’s speaker was Miami County Commissioner Ted Mercer of Troy, whose grandfather served in the state patrol from mid-1935 into the early 1950s. Mercer said he considered a career in law enforcement before taking a different career path.

“I have the utmost respect and admiration for law enforcement,” he said, noting, however, that officers also “are ordinary human beings.”

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Mercer criticized calls in some parts of the country to defund the police. “Are you kidding me?” he said. In Miami County, the commissioners have increased salaries for deputies and correction officers and officers now have body cameras.

“The board of commissioners understands that we need to continue to recruit high caliber deputies and, in doing so, provide them with the best training and equipment possible,” he said.

He thanked officers for their “invaluable” service and urged people to express appreciation to officers for their work.

“You are the heroes. We stand here today firmly supporting the men and women of law enforcement,” Mercer said.

Miami County officers memorialized are:

  • Marshall Harvey Hake, Covington Police Department, Jan. 12, 1917
  • Ptlm. George Eickmeyer, Tipp City Police Department, Sept. 17, 1945
  • Lt. Noah Studebaker, Piqua Police Department, Oct. 17, 1957
  • Ptlm. Jan Mulder II, Piqua Police Department, Aug. 11, 1970
  • Sgt. William R. Morris, Miami County Sheriff’s Office, Nov. 22, 1972
  • Det. Robert Taylor, Piqua Police Department, Nov. 3, 1982
  • Sgt. Robert L. Elliott, Miami County Sheriff’s Office, Feb. 25, 1987
  • Inspector Kimra Skelton, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Nov. 27, 2019.

National Police Week was May 5 through 11.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.

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