A Peace Officers memorial ceremony was held by the Ohio State Police Division Friday afternoon in front of Blankenship Hall to honor officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, including the officer for who the building is named: Michael Blankenship.
The ceremony took place during National Police Week, a seven-day period that began in the 1960s to honor officers who have died protecting others.
During the week, officers who have died in the line of duty the past year are recognized and their names are added to the National Police Memorial in Washington D.C.
During the ceremony, OSU officer Cassandra Shaffer said 394 names will be added to the memorial this year, in addition to the 20,000 names already etched into the stone monument.
“These deaths are a painful reminder to each officer and their families the danger of law enforcement,” Shaffer said during the ceremony.
University Police Chief Craig Stone said that at this time in 2017, 51 officers throughout the country have died in the line of duty, a 42 percent increase compared to last year.
Stone remembered Blankenship for his good works, and said his memory will continue on through the fallen officer’s fund created in his memory.
Michael Blankenship was killed 20 years ago after responding with his partner to a suspicious-persons call at the Wexner Center of the Arts. They attempted to remove a man who had refused to leave, before the suspect pulled a gun and fatally shot Blankenship.
“He made the ultimate sacrifice and he will not be forgotten,” Stone said.
Stone said the fund supports and provides equipment to the Rape Aggression Defense program at OSU. Through the program, officers train women in self defense and safety skills.
OSU police officer Alan Horujiko also spoke during the ceremony and reflected on the Nov. 28 attack in which he shot and killed Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a student who deliberately drove into a crowd with his car and proceeded to use a knife to attack pedestrians. Horujiko killed Artan within one minute of the attack.
“Though I was the only officer physically present on the scene when the attack took place, I was far from being alone that day,” Horujiko said. “Those lost on the line of duty are lessons that stick with each of us that wear a badge.”
Horujiko said that when he was responding to the attack, he could hear the voices of his past instructors clearly in his head, citing their lessons and guidance for his ability to act and survive that day.
“One of those past instructors is a man we honor each year… Officer Michael Blankenship,” Horujiko said.
Horujiko added that on that day, and on so many others, officers go into the unknown, risking their lives to protect the community in which they serve.
“What I chose to focus on after the November attack is the number of brave people I saw running,” Horujiko said. “Selflessly running toward danger to help. When every basic instinct is telling you to run away to safety, every first responder decides to help instead. It is in our nature.”
“We honor our fallen this week and every week by continuing to show our true nature,” he said.