LIMA — Detective Sgt. Paula Strickler of the Lima Police Department played “Taps” to conclude Wednesday’s memorial in remembrance of fallen law enforcement officers, an event held annually at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 21 in Lima.
To her great surprise, Strickler was honored some 45 minutes later as the Lima Exchange Club’s 2017 Law Officer of the Year in an event held inside the FOP Lodge.
Strickler, who will wrap up a 38-year career with the Lima Police Department when she enters retirement on May 22, was at a loss for words upon hearing her name announced as the award winner.
“I’m honored and I’m humbled,” said the reserved police officer who drew accolades from friends and colleagues for her work on behalf of the elderly and persons with disabilities.
In 2017 she took on 29 cases involving crimes committed against the most vulnerable of the community’s residents and was helpful in recovering thousands of dollars stolen from those individuals, according to information provided by the Exchange Club. For that work, she was recently presented with the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities President’s Award.
“This is not something I could do by myself,” said Strickler in accepting her award. “I’d like to thank everyone who helped shape me throughout my career. I appreciate your help.”
Strickler said the was helped by “a lot of people who taught me to do the right thing and taught me how to treat people.”
Strickler was the 50th recipient of the “Law Officer of the Year” award and the third female to be so honored.
Other nominees for the award this year were were Deputy Barry Friemoth of the Allen County Sheriff’s Office and Detective Donald Marik of the Shawnee Township Police Department.
The guest speaker for the event was Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed, who said it is important to remember that “law enforcement officers are a constant line of defense between chaos and order.”
A new, surprise name for award
The Lima Exchange Club’s Law Officer of the Year award, presented for the first time in and in each subsequent year through 2015, was not handed out for two years as the Exchange Club went through a transition period.
Current Club President Mike Mullen said during Wednesday’s event that the award had been given new life — and a new name.
“In 1966 this award was started by Jack Somerville, the club’s charter president,” said Mullen. “Last fall our board decided to do something special for our charter president and we’re going to do that today. Going forward the award given by our club to the top law enforcement officer will be known as the Lima Exchange Club-Jack Somerville Award.”
Somerville then presented the first award bearing his name to Strickler.
Remembering the fallen
Prior to the Law Officer of the Year ceremonies, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 21 held its 26th annual remembrance of police officers who have given their lives in the line of duty.
Proclamations were read by Allen County Commissioner Greg Sneary and Lima City Council President John Nixon marking the week of May 13 to 19 as Police Week in the county and city.
A roll call of the 10 officers who died in the line of duty since 1902 was recited and wreaths were placed at a monument inscribed with the words “Dedicated to all law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty.”
A 21-gun salute — followed by the playing of “Taps” — concluded the event.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.