FOP, Lima Exchange Club pay tribute to late Bluffton officer


By J Swygart - [email protected]



Bluffton Police Chief Ryan Burkholder said Dominic Francis, the Bluffton police officer who died earlier this year in the performance of his duties, was an example of what all police officers should strive to be.

Bluffton Police Chief Ryan Burkholder said Dominic Francis, the Bluffton police officer who died earlier this year in the performance of his duties, was an example of what all police officers should strive to be.


J Swygart | The Lima News

Sharon Kennedy, an associate justice on the Ohio Supreme Court, was among the speakers at the annual memorial service for fallen officers held Wednesday at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 21 in Lima.

Sharon Kennedy, an associate justice on the Ohio Supreme Court, was among the speakers at the annual memorial service for fallen officers held Wednesday at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 21 in Lima.


J Swygart | The Lima News

Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin, left, Allen County Sheriff Matt Treglia and Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Alec Coil (not pictured) placed a wreath in honor of Dominic Francis during ceremonies Wednesday to honor fallen police officers.


J Swygart | The Lima News

A 21-gun salute was held Wednesday at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Lima in honor of Dominic Francis.


J Swygart | The Lima News

LIMA — It’s been 48 years since the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 21 in Lima has been forced to add a name to its Wall of Honor that recognizes Allen County lawmen who have died in the performance of their duties.

Regrettably, that streak has ended. A tribute to Dominic Francis will be added in the near future to the 10 names that already adorn the wall.

Francis, a Bluffton Police Officer, died March 31 when he was struck and killed by a fleeing car on Interstate 75 during a high-speed chase that led police through multiple counties. He was honored during the lodge’s annual memorial service for fallen officers that is held each May.

The F.O.P. Lodge on Robb Avenue in Lima was packed Wednesday with law enforcement personnel, judges, attorneys and others associated with the furtherance of justice in Allen County. They were there to pay tribute to Francis, who was described as his former chief as a “teddy bear” who “put a smile on everybody’s face.”

Bluffton Police Chief Ryan Burkholder said Francis was an example of what all police officers should strive to be.

“We hear about community policing. Well he did it with excellence,” Burkholder said. “He was firm but he was fair. He is never going to be forgotten because he’s not going to let us forget.”

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy was the guest speaker for the annual memorial service. She said law enforcement officers “are the first line of defense for your community, and they often walk a very thin line. To the family of Dominic Francis, we are forever grateful for your sacrifice and we share in your loss.”

Proclamations were presented in recognition of Francis’ service by Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith and Brian Winegardner, representing the Allen County Commissioners.

“Dominic dedicated his life to public service,” said F.O.P spokesman Darrell Ball. “He had a servant’s heart.”

Exchange Club also honors Francis

Francis was also recognized posthumously as the Lima Exchange Club’s Law Officer of the Year in a follow-up ceremony.

The Jack Somerville award paid tribute to Francis’ many years of law enforcement service to the Findlay Police Department, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and the Bluffton Police Department.

During his 11 years on the department in Bluffton, Francis received numerous leadership awards and letters of commendation. He also was active in the Cory-Rawson high school community as football coach, substitute teacher and bus driver.

Francis is the 54th individual to be chosen as the Exchange Club’s Law Officer of the Year. In 2018 the club named the award in honor of Jack Somerville, who organized the project and is still an active club member.

Francis, 42, was killed along I-75 while he was setting up stop sticks, which flatten tires, to try to end a high-speed chase that had reached speeds up to 120 mph.

The incident took place near the state Route 103 exit, just north of Bluffton. Three suspects in the car drove a short distance after striking Francis before exiting the vehicle and fleeing on foot.

Bluffton Police Chief Ryan Burkholder said Dominic Francis, the Bluffton police officer who died earlier this year in the performance of his duties, was an example of what all police officers should strive to be.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/05/web1_Copz-..-Burkholder.jpgBluffton Police Chief Ryan Burkholder said Dominic Francis, the Bluffton police officer who died earlier this year in the performance of his duties, was an example of what all police officers should strive to be. J Swygart | The Lima News
Sharon Kennedy, an associate justice on the Ohio Supreme Court, was among the speakers at the annual memorial service for fallen officers held Wednesday at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 21 in Lima.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/05/web1_Copz-...-Justice-Kennedy.jpgSharon Kennedy, an associate justice on the Ohio Supreme Court, was among the speakers at the annual memorial service for fallen officers held Wednesday at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 21 in Lima. J Swygart | The Lima News
Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin, left, Allen County Sheriff Matt Treglia and Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Alec Coil (not pictured) placed a wreath in honor of Dominic Francis during ceremonies Wednesday to honor fallen police officers.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/05/web1_Copz-...-Martin-and-Treglia.jpgLima Police Chief Kevin Martin, left, Allen County Sheriff Matt Treglia and Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Alec Coil (not pictured) placed a wreath in honor of Dominic Francis during ceremonies Wednesday to honor fallen police officers. J Swygart | The Lima News
A 21-gun salute was held Wednesday at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Lima in honor of Dominic Francis.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/05/web1_Copz-..-21-gun-salute.jpgA 21-gun salute was held Wednesday at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Lima in honor of Dominic Francis. J Swygart | The Lima News

By J Swygart

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