Nationally, last year was one of the deadliest for law enforcement officers.
Toledo police Detective Keith Dressel was among the 181 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2007.
That was the highest number since 2001, when 240 officers were killed. They included 72 who died as a result of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11 of that year.
Since Detective Dressel's death, the annual Toledo Area Police Memorial Service has held a different meaning.
It has become more personal.
No longer is it a ceremony to remember officers who died years before many of the current Toledo police officers were appointed to the force, but a day also to remember their friend and colleague, Detective Dressel.
"I found myself standing there as they were reading the names, holding my breath because I knew the last one was going to be Keith," Sgt. Karen Sue Martensen said yesterday after the department's annual service at the Toledo Police Memorial Garden on the Civic Center Mall in downtown Toledo.
"All of the sudden, it has a personal touch and personal meaning."
Detective Dressel's widow, Danielle, and his father, Michael Dressel, held one another during most of the service.
Sixty-three officers from the area who were killed in the line of duty were remembered during the memorial service.
Officer Greg Szymanski has attended the annual ceremony all of his 15 years on the force.
He said that while there were many officers killed in the line of duty before Detective Dressel, he was "one of our own."
"We can never forget them," he said. "That's why we're here every year."
Chief Mike Navarre said although many people are "painfully aware" of the sacrifices police officers make daily, it is important to gather each year to remember them.
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"We cannot replace them, but we can assure their loved ones that they will never be forgotten," he said.
Lucas Jaimez, a senior at St. John's Jesuit High School, stood toward the back of the memorial garden, imagining what it would be like to someday be a Toledo police officer. As part of a senior project, the 18-year-old is shadowing a detective for two weeks. He is considering three careers: police officer; firefighter, or engineer.
After yesterday, he said he is strongly considering a career in law enforcement.
"If anything, [being at the ceremony] made me want to be a cop more," Mr. Jaimez said.
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