30th Ohio Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony honors those killed in the line of duty

LONDON, OH (WCMH) — Law enforcement officers from across the state came together Thursday to honor those peace officers killed in the line of duty.

Among those being remembered this year are Columbus Division of Police Officer Steven Smith, Danville Police Department Officer Thomas Cottrell Jr. and Hilliard Division of Police officer Sean Johnson.

Trooper Kenneth Velez and Officer Aaron J. Christian were also honored.

Since 1823, 782 Ohio peace officers have been killed in the line of duty.

Columbus Police Sergeant Joe Podolski was there to honor Officer Smith.

“I just miss him, I miss his enthusiasm… miss him being there,” Podolski said. “He did a great job with everything.”

Smith was shot while providing cover for other officers during a standoff situation on April 10, 2016. He passed away two days later.

“Steve meant a lot to me, meant a lot to our team and to be able to be here and represent him and be here for his family and everything… it meant a lot,” Podolski said.

Officer Sean Johnson was the first and only Hilliard police officer killed in the line of duty. On May 19, 2016 he died after crashing his motorcycle on a ramp during training exercises.

“Today was a very fitting tribute, I think, to Officer Johnson and the other police officers that died in the line of duty last year,” said Hilliard Police Chief Robert Fisher. “Sean was such a compassionate guy and I miss seeing him, that smile that he had, just a great member of our organization and someone that meant a lot to us.”

In January of 2016, Officer Thomas Cottrell Jr. was working alone when dispatchers received a call from a woman saying her ex boyfriend said he was going to kill a police officer. Officer Cottrell was ambushed and killed in the parking lot of the village municipal building.

“Tom was such a big part of our community,” said Danville Police Department Lt. Mark Perkins. “If you’re going to Danville today you’ll see his name on billboards, you’ll see his name on a gas stations thanking him for his service. . . . “There’s not a day that goes by that the Danville police department isn’t thinking about Tom Cottrell.”

K-9 Officer Jethro of the Canton Police Department was also honored Thursday. He was shot multiple times on January 9, 2016 by an intruder while responding to an alarm at a grocery in Canton and died the next day.

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