HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Monday in Harrisburg, the 27th Annual Fraternal Order of Police Memorial Service returned after being put on hold since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today’s service honored the 35 heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice from 2019 to 2021 while serving the Commonwealth and its communities. Two of those 35 served the City of Erie.
“This year, it’s especially hard for our department, as we lost to two officers within the last year,” said Sergeant Justin Stidham of the Erie Police Department.
Members of EPD made the trip to pay tribute and support the families of their fallen colleagues, Detective Sergeant Gary Taccone and Officer Jason Michael Belton.
“We wanted to make sure we had a nice turnout of police officers to come and be with the families of those officers and remember their ultimate sacrifice,” said Sergeant Stidham.
It’s an ultimate sacrifice that will never be forgotten thanks to this annual service and the message it sends.
“The message that it sends is that we assure the families, the friends, the coworkers of those officers that paid the ultimate sacrifice, that we’ll never forget them,” said Sergeant Stidham. “We’ll always be here, and we’ll always be there for their families, their friends,” he added.
Lawmakers and state officials also attended the memorial to express the heroism, bravery, and selflessness of those who were honored.
“We’re reminded again and again of the sacrifices of this profession, and how we rely on you to protect our communities,” said Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Wearing the badge is a mark of a noble profession,” Shapiro added.
Governor Tom Wolf was in attendance, as were party leaders of the state House and Senate.
“Pennsylvania’s law enforcement officers are steadfast public servants who put their lives on the line day after day to protect their neighbors, community members, and fellow Pennsylvanians,” said Gov. Wolf. “Today, we stand in memorial for our fallen officers. We recognize their heroism, bravery, and selflessness that we all rely on,” he added.
A full list of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice from 2019-2021 can be viewed here.
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