GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County law enforcement and residents gathered in Gallipolis City Park Monday to remember the sacrifices of passed and current law enforcement officers across the country, as part of Peace Officer Memorial Day.
The week in which May 15 falls is considered National Police Week. Gallia County Commissioners issued a proclamation to celebrate the occasion last Thursday and Gallipolis City Commissioner President Tony Gallagher read another proclamation announcing the city’s support of its law enforcement Monday.
“As the members of the law enforcement agency of Gallipolis, Ohio, play an essential role in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of Gallipolis…It is important that all citizens know and understand the duties, responsibilities, hazards and sacrifices of their law enforcement agency and that members of our law enforcement agency recognize their duty by safeguarding life and property by protecting them against violence and disorder,” said Gallagher.
Gallipolis Police Chief Jeff Boyer dubbed Sergeant Detective Justin Rice as the Gallipolis Police Department’s Officer of the Year.
According to Boyer, Rice has been employed full-time with GPD for 10 years and before coming to the department he served with the Gallia Sheriff’s Office and Cheshire Police Department. Rice started with the department as part of the Explorer program before becoming a dispatcher and then a part-time officer in 2004. He was eventually hired in 2007 in a full-time capacity. He would attain the rank of Detective Sergeant in May 17, 2016 and serves as a part of the GPD Honor Guard and GPD’s Special Response Team.
Rice was awarded the Life saving and Distinguished Service Award in 2005 for entering a smoke-filled building and taking part in the rescue of 11 residents. He was voted Officer of the Year by his fellow officers.
Rice has also served as a Department of Homeland Security representative for GPD as well as served on the Gallia-Meigs-Vinton Joint Drug Task Force for three years.
Pastor and Gallia 911 Communications Center Dispatcher Bob Hood led some final comments before the assembled in the park.
“Today in Kirkersville, this ceremony is a little different because it takes on a reality,” said Hood. “I’m sure many of you know and saw over the weekend, they lost their police chief in gunfire. It became real in their community (the dangers involved with policing). We too have lost ours in the past. Today will be a different ceremony for them. They will read 143 names of men and women who this past year have lost their lives in the line of duty. They will end with a special ceremony honoring one of their own.”
Hood would go on to say that despite the color of the many shirts of individuals putting their lives on the line to serve America, the end result was about brotherhood and togetherness for the betterment of the country.
“We’ve been there in the past,” said Hood. “We’ve lost some of our own. Today, in Washington, they’re going to read 394 names. They’re going to read the names of the following heroes from the last two years, covering 50 states and the District of Columbia. … Today, we thank you for coming and being here and giving support to our law enforcement personnel. I pray today that you will not only remember these men and women who fight for the safety of our community but also let us remember the men and women who fight for the freedom that we can enjoy in this great country. It’s only because of this community of those people who serve that we enjoy each and every day.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.