By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR
Dozens of police officers, families and supporters remembered the more than 100 officers killed in the line of duty here since 1891, with special reference to Youngstown Officer Michael Hartzell a decade after his murder.
The Annual Fallen Officers Memorial was Friday morning at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.
Photos of most of the 26 officers from the area honored during the ceremony were placed at the front of the church on poster board.
A wreath was laid near the photos, and a rose for each of the fallen officers placed inside the wreath by current police officers and family members of the fallen officer.
Hartzell was shot and killed in downtown Youngstown on April 29, 2003, in an ambush-style shooting as he sat in his cruiser. Martin L. Koliser Jr., 30, was convicted of aggravated murder in the shooting. He committed suicide in prison shortly after his conviction.
Howard Hartzell, Michael’s father, spoke during the ceremony recalling how his son, from an early age, wanted to settle down with a wife, children and a career in law enforcement. He said the career choice was an issue of concern for his wife, but they wanted their son to be happy.
“As a father, I know Michael shared a greater calling. ... He was truly a hero and lived his dream,” he said. “There are few people called to greatness in the world, and Mike was one of those people. He will never be forgotten.”
The elder Hartzell choked up while recalling the early-morning phone call that told him and his wife their son had been killed in the line of duty.
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas court presided over the trial of Hartzell’s killer. He said at the ceremony he is happy to have seen justice served swiftly in the court. The judge said he did not know Hartzell personally, but his death united the entire community.
Judge Krichbaum said working as a bailiff, then a defense attorney and now a common-pleas-court judge has given him an understanding and profound respect for law-enforcement officers.
“I knew a great number of the officers honored here today,” Judge Krichbaum added. “They were all good men, good cops and good friends.”
Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley said those honored did not look to be called heroes. He said they each wanted to lead decent lives, support their families and be a benefit to the community, but their actions and sacrifices placed them in the elite category of heroes.
Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene shared a poem with those in attendance.
The memorial listed officers killed in the line of duty, beginning with Youngstown Officer William Freed, who died in 1891, and ending with Robert Conway, a Mahoning County reserve deputy sheriff, who died in 2012.