Update: Remembering fallen heroes - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Update: Remembering fallen heroes

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FAYETTEVILLE -

Officers lost in the line of duty were honored Wednesday.

A Police Memorial Service was held in front of the Fayette County Courthouse where citizens, law enforcement and families who lost loved ones on the job showed their respect for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

On average, every 57 hours, 1 officer is killed in the United States. Fayette County Sheriff Steve Kessler told 59 News memorial services are a proper way of honoring and remembering the fallen.

"I think it's good for the young officers here who are just starting out to see this service and actually understand how dangerous this job is and how precious your life is," said Sheriff Kessler.

Beckley Police Detective Chuck Smith died during an undercover drug deal in 2006. Smith's mother told us he did not die in vain.

"He died doing what he loves, which gives me comfort, it makes it easier knowing, which he voiced many times, 'Mom, this is the way I want to die, this is the way I want to go," Susie Smith said.

Since the year began, 41 officers in the United States have lost their lives in the line of duty and since 1863, 199 West Virginia officers have died on the job. State Senator and former Fayette County Sheriff, William Laird, explained how we can help combat the loss of life of officers on the job.

"I think certainly improved training opportunities for law enforcement officers and good safety equipment, and certainly by the support of the general public with respect to the difficult role law enforcement officers play in the communities in which we live," Senator Laird told us.

The former Sheriff explained to the crowd he would like legislation to be passed to provide bullet proof vests to city officers, as it recently was passed on the county level. After listing every West Virginia officer who has died on the job since 1863, Senator Laird moved the crowd when quoting "It's not how they died that made them heroes, it's how they lived." He concluded the service by telling the crowd it's his wish for next year that no new names be added to that list.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 118, along with the Fayette County Sheriff's Department, conducted the annual Police Memorial Service.


Today, law enforcement members from around southern West Virginia will honor police officers killed in the line of duty.

The annual law enforcement memorial service will take place at the Fayette County Courthouse. It is hosted each year by the Fayette County Memorial Lodge #118 of the Fraternal Order of Police.

West Virginia State Senator William Laird, the former Fayette County Sheriff, will serve as the guest speaker.

The memorial service starts at noon on the front steps of the courthouse in Fayetteville.