P. P. Cuyahoga Falls -- Before her husband was killed in the line of duty, "I too was a police officer and didn't give much thought" to National Police Officer Memorial Week, Holly Miktarian admitted. Now she knows firsthand about loss and sacrifice.
The Tallmadge resident who served eight years with the Oakwood Village Police Department was the keynote speaker at the Cuyahoga Falls and Silver Lake Police Departments' Police Memorial Service on May 14. The service is an annual event organized by the Cuyahoga Falls and Silver Lake Police Memorial and Honor Guard Foundation.
Addressing the crowd of more than 200 people, Miktarian said she has attended "countless" police memorial services throughout the past six years. "[I'm] ashamed to say before my husband was killed I too was a police officer and didn't give much thought to this week."
Her husband, Twinsburg Police Officer Josh Miktarian, was killed in the line of duty on July 13, 2008. Holly Miktarian said she realizes now National Police Officer Memorial Week is "so important and I hope there isn't another officer out there who isn't aware of how important it is. We have to make a promise to never forget our fallen."
Josh Miktarian was working a 12-hour shift on patrol with his police dog Bagio when he pulled over a driver around 2 a.m. for playing loud music. He radioed dispatchers that he was on a traffic stop and requested backup. "That was the last time Josh was ever heard from again," Holly said. Soon after Josh's call came in, dispatchers began receiving phone calls from residents who heard popping noises and loud yelling.
"Josh was found lying in the driveway with several shots to the head and torso," Holly said. "My Josh was left there laying in a driveway, alone, to die like an animal." She said his killer, Ashford Thompson, told police he shot her husband because he was "rude" to him. Thompson was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Josh Miktarian.
"It was unbelievably gratifying to stand up in front of Ashford Thompson at sentencing and tell him exactly what I thought," Holly Miktarian told her audience. "From a widow's perspective, a police officer's perspective, the mother of our only child and as a human being. I will never understand his actions that early morning nor will I ever forgive him."
Holly said she will never forget Josh. Even if she wanted to, she added, she has their daughter, Thea, who recently turned 6. She describes her as the spitting image of her dad. "With the exception of his bald head," she added with a smile.
Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters called it "a happy but somber day as we honor those that run into the face of danger when we're sometimes inclined to run the other way … today we honor all who protect and serve."
Silver Lake Mayor Bernie Hovey stressed the importance of going to a police officer when help is needed. "I can remember when my kids were young I told them if they ever got separated from their parents the first thing you look for is a police officer," Hovey said.
"We gather each year during the week of May 15 to pay homage to the officers who have given their lives in the line of duty and to the officers who have served and continue to serve," said John Sim, a retired Falls police officer and the president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 49. "We gather as citizens, families, brothers and sisters of the badge."
Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief Jack Davis said it was "wonderful" to see so many current and former police officers, members of their families and citizens in the audience. "It shows you what a community we have here," Davis said. "Part of that community has supported this beautiful monument here."
The chief said along with the names of officers who have passed away or died in the line of duty, there is a list of donors. "This is a special place," Davis said. "Not because of the beautiful granite, not because of all the nice statues, but because of the names that are on it, that support what we do here."