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Officers killed, those still on duty honored at event

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From left, Officer Katrina Welsh-Bills, Chief Derrick Diggs and Officer Berna Guy salute after laying a wreath during the Toledo Area Police Memorial Service at the Toledo Police Memorial Garden, Wednesday.

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On behalf of the officers killed in the line of duty, Sheriff John Tharp had one request: The last name read during Wednesday’s memorial ceremony be the last name read.

No more law enforcement officials should die doing their work, he said.

The somber annual Toledo Area Police Memorial Service, at the downtown Toledo Police Memorial Garden, honored the 68 officers, troopers, and deputies from the region — which includes southeast Michigan — who have died in the line of duty.

GALLERY: Click here to view

“We are here for those individuals who gave their all ... until their last moment,” Sheriff Tharp said during the keynote address.

The memorial service and a Toledo police awards ceremony are both held as part of National Police Week. Since 1962, May 15 has been recognized as Peace Officers Memorial Day.

Numerous officers, civilian employees, and residents were recognized for a job well done during the morning ceremony at One Government Center.

The department’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor, was awarded to Officer Ben Cousino, who fatally shot Darrell Parnell during a violent struggle in September. Parnell had tried several times, police said, to get the officer’s gun; the suspect at one point took Officer Cousino’s baton and used it to hit the officer repeatedly on the head.

The Command Officer of the Year award was given to Sgt. Tim Campbell, a 23-year department veteran who oversees the Special Victims Unit. On June 1, he will move to the unit that investigates homicides, assaults, and robberies.

The Officer of the Year honor was awarded to David O’Brien, who said he grew up wanting to be a police officer.

His favorite part of the job the past 27 years has been “helping people” and “talking to people in the community.”

Officer O’Brien, accompanied by his wife, Roxanne, said he was honored and surprised to learn of his recognition.

“There are so many people who deserve it,” he said. “Why would I be the one?”

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.

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