Memorial honors fallen Akron officers and their families, recognizes sacrifice

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Twenty-eight police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice were honored Wednesday with a memorial service at the Akron Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7. 

The annual event honored both the officers who gave their lives and the families that lost a sibling, child or parent, Police Union President Clay Cozart said.  

“It’s a yearly reminder that not only do we not forget those officers, we also never forget their families,” Cozart said. “Because their sacrifice continues to this day and for the rest of their lives.”  

The memorial service, which coincides with National Police Week, is held each year, but was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.  

It honors the 27 Akron police officers and one Kenmore Deputy Marshal who died in the line of duty. Two Akron officers, Kenny Jones and Edward Stewart, died in the last six months.  

Cozart said the two recent passing adds more solemnness to the ceremony, knowing that for both the officers’ families, that grief is still fresh. 

He said it’s important to acknowledge and honor those families sacrifice.  

Havilland Jones, front, and her brother Xavier bow their heads for a moment of prayer after receiving flowers during a memorial service for their father, Kenny Jones, and other fallen Akron police officers at the Akron FOP Lodge, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Akron, Ohio.

During the roll call of fallen officers, family members in attendance are handed flowers, and a flower is pinned on a memorial wreath.  

Deputy Chief Jesse Leeser, who’s currently acting police chief, said it’s important to take this time every year to remember the fallen officers. 

Leeser said he was a kid delivering newspapers when he first read a story about the Akron officers who lost their lives. He said it left an imprint on him and led him to join the armed forces and later the police department. 

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