LIMA — For the third consecutive year, Rhodes State College hosted a Memorial Tree Lighting Wednesday evening, to remember criminal justice officers and K-9s that lost their lives in the line of duty during 2017 in the United States.
“The criminal justice program has adorned this tree in blue lights as a symbol of the thin blue line, the symbol of respect for fallen officers and a reminder that the blue line represents a stance that officers have taken to demonstrate a commitment to all of those that they protect from those that would harm them,” said Richard Kohli, chairman of criminal justice at Rhodes State.
A sign with the names of the officers is next to the live spruce tree.
“As we compiled the list of names last week for the graphic artist to prepare this sign, we once again were reminded that tragedy and violence are a daily concern for our criminal justice professionals. The sign lists the name of 118 law enforcement officers and correction officers that died this year and sadly, before we put the sign in place this morning another name, that of officer Kenneth Copeland from San Marcos, Texas P.D. who was shot and killed while serving warrants on his day off on December 4th would be added to the list, bringing to 119 total,” he said.
“Beyond honoring the memory of those lost this year, we would like to pay tribute to the criminal justice professionals and other first responders in the region who daily put their lives on the safety and security of the community above their own. Our graduates and current students represent the best of the tradition of service and sacrifice and we would ask that you remember the families and friends of these fallen heroes as you celebrate the blessings of the Christmas season,” Kohli said.
Kohli says it’s important to remember the fallen officers.
“We feel it’s important because we have a corrections and law enforcement program. We wanted to demonstrate for our students that even in times of crisis and tragedy, that communities do remember the sacrifice and service they provide and we want to encourage our own students. We want to memorialize those people who have gone before us and paid that ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409