Monday, May 10, 2004

Bigger parade honors police

Tuesday event begins at noon

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Greater Cincinnati marks national Police Memorial Week on Tuesday with a bigger parade than officials have staged in years.

More suburban departments are expected for the noon ceremony and march - at least 20 bringing vehicles, eight with color guards, several with horse patrols and police dogs. The Hamilton County Police Association's new honor guard will be there, too. Officers from 23 departments are in that group.

The event will begin at Fountain Square, and end at the police memorial in the West End.

"We hadn't really done our part to notify all the departments in the area," Sgt. Harry Roberts, president of the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police, said Sunday. "I would ask policemen why they didn't come, and they'd say they didn't know anything about it."

As new president of the union, he wanted to fix that. So about a month ago, he sent letters to the 44 law enforcement agencies in the suburbs, plus more to others in Northern Kentucky.

Police Memorial Week started Sunday. Communities across the country stage commemorations of lost police officers. The annual candlelight vigil at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., will mark the addition of 143 deceased officers' names to the memorial, which already bears more than 16,000 names.

The 143 officer deaths in 2003 is a decrease of just under 15 percent over the 10-year average of 167, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. The leading causes of the deaths were car accidents and gunshots.

Cincinnati's last on-duty death was in September 2000, when Officer Kevin Crayon was dragged to his death on Colerain Avenue.

Fairfax Chief Rick Patterson helps lead the chief's association's honor guard. He said suburban departments always knew they were welcome to attend Cincinnati's parade; he's not sure why many didn't.

"It's an important day for all of us," he said.



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