As I listened to Joe Mannion talk about the history of the Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial, I could hear the pain in his voice. The pain of a man who has seen far too many brothers in uniform lose their lives in the line of duty.
Dedicated on May 14, 1993, the memorial features the names of 186 officers who have lost their lives on the job from an area that includes Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina and northern Summit counties. An expansion was commissioned this year because there was only space to add nine more names.
“I’m sure back in 1993, they thought, ‘We have all this space, we’ll never run out,’” says Mannion, president of the Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial Society. “But as the years go on, an officer’s life is put in more danger than it was in the past.”
You can read more about the Memorial in this month’s Building Stronger Communities feature. It’s one of the few times I’ve written about an expansion project that nobody ever wanted to see happen.
As I did this story, I thought a lot about police officers and the difficult job they face. While their jobs are very different, they need to possess many of the same leadership and dealmaking skills as the presidents and CEOs we write about on a regular basis. Those skills are certainly applied in a different way, but these individuals are leaders in the truest sense of the word.
I also thought about my experience this past Halloween. As my son and daughter did their trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, we were visited not once, but twice by police officers from both Mentor and Mentor on the Lake.
I didn’t think to get their names at the time, but each officer took the time to show their cruisers to my kids, turn on the flashers and pose for a few pictures. It was a great experience in that I want my kids to know that police officers are people they can trust and turn to for help if they ever need it.
I join retired Lt. Mannion in hoping and praying that they never have to add another name to the memorial at the corner of West 3rd Street and Lakeside Avenue. And I thank those officers for making it a memorable Halloween. ●