Local officials observe National Police Week

PARKERSBURG – Local police officers honored their own and their families Monday as officers from around the area commemorated National Police Week.

Officers placed wreaths at the Police-Firefighters Memorial at the Parkersburg Municipal Building in honor of police officers locally, across the state and nationwide. Officers then gathered for an awards luncheon, catered by Texas Roadhouse, at the City Park Pavilion.

Chris Morehead, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Blennerhassett Lodge 79, spoke during the luncheon about the job police officers do and the price that is paid by many.

There were 120 duty officers killed over the last year nationwide, including three in West Virginia, he said. In 2013, duty deaths are up 21 percent with 41 officers and seven K-9’s killed, Morehead said.

“As we sit and think about how these officers died in the line of duty, we must remember how they lived and we must go on everyday acting in their memory,” Morehead said. “Law enforcement officers represent a thin blue line, an unbreakable bond between officers, that represents the defense of good from evil. We took an oath to enforce the law and protect the citizens we serve.

“It is a daunting task that never ends. We honor those and remember those who perished while upholding the law.”

Since the early 1960s, May 15 has been designated as National Police Officers Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as National Police Week.

Brian Harrell, chaplain for the Parkersburg Police Department and pastor at Liberty Street Church of God in Parkersburg, spoke about how police officers were always the ones heading toward the situations other people do not want to deal with.

“I was thinking about all of you,” he said. “That is your life. All you do is walk toward the mess, the mess that everyone else wants to run away from.

“That makes you heroes and I wanted to remind you of that. That makes you special people, that makes you people of a character that most people don’t have.”

“On behalf of everyone, you have a valuable job and you are doing a valuable service,” Harrell told the law enforcement officers. “Parkersburg is still one of the safest places to live in the entire United States and all of you have contributed to making that happen.”

Harrell said a prayer for the officers’ continued safety and for their families who constantly see how the job can impact their lives.

The local FOP chapter handed out awards to police officers and civilians.

Retired Lt. Dana Miller of the Parkersburg Police Department was awarded the Charles L. Plum Memorial Award for the Police Officer of the Year. Miller had 28 years in law enforcement, the last 20 with the Parkersburg Police Department.

Morehead said Miller was the best supervisor he had ever had.

“He tried to be fair,” Morehead said of Miller. “He was a counselor to all of us and he was a leader to us.”

Miller said he was touched by the award, because it was picked by the officers.

“When the men saw everyday how I treated them and worked with them everyday, it makes me feel much more humble in receiving the award,” he said. “It really is an honor.”

The Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award went to Wood County grant coordinator Toni Tiano and Foodland owner Jim Oppe.

The Chief Gary Deem Lifetime Achievement Award went to retired Parkersburg police detective Joe Gonzales, who now serves as the civil service representative for the FOP.

The Half Unit (Spouse of the Year Award) went to Tina Hughes, wife of Scott Hughes of the Vienna Police Department.

FOP scholarship recipients are:

* Lauren Marie Amos, daughter of Tony and Karen Amos, of Williamstown High School who will be attending West Virginia University, majoring in animal and nutritional sciences

* Brooke Nichole Radabaugh, daughter of Craig and Melissa Radabaugh, of Parkersburg South High School who will be attending Glenville State College, majoring in accounting

* William Todd Barker, son of Delmas and Tammy Barker, of Parkersburg South High School who will be attending West Virginia University at Parkersburg, majoring in engineering

* Alyssa Corinne Roberts, daughter of Keith and Lori Roberts, who attends WVU-P majoring in psychology.

* Ryan S. Carpenter, son of Scott and Julie Carpenter, who attends WVU-P where he is majoring in physical therapy.

* Gabriel Anthony Bibbs, son of Delmas and Debra Barker, who attends WVU-P where he is majoring in nursing.

* Jarod L. Barker, son of Delmas and Debra Barker, who attends WVU-P where he is majoring in engineering.

* Katherine Elaine Brown, daughter of Donald and Tamara Brown, who attends WVU-P where she is majoring in elementary education.