Cuyahoga Falls -- Holly Miktarian, widow of slain Twinsburg Police Officer Josh Miktarian, will be the featured speaker at this year's Cuyahoga Falls and Silver Lake Police Memorial service slated for 10 a.m. May 14 in Cuyahoga Falls.
The service will take place at the Cuyahoga Falls and Silver Lake Police Memorial site on the city's civic campus between the municipal building and the Natatorium, off Oakwood Drive between Second and Third streets.
Holly Miktarian, a former police officer herself, lost her husband on July 13, 2008, when Josh Miktarian was shot and killed during a traffic stop. He was 33.
Retired Cuyahoga Falls Police Officer Steve Amos, a member of the Police Memorial Committee, said he invited Holly to be a part of the service in Cuyahoga Falls after he heard her speak at the state police memorial service in Columbus two years ago. Miktarian accepted Amos' invitation because she likes to tell her story.
"This is my form of counseling," she said by phone from her home in Tallmadge. "I usually speak at police academies, because when I went through the police academy, they didn't talk about anything like that. We thought we were invincible. I think it's important for rookies to hear [about Josh Miktarian]."
Holly Miktarian served as a police officer in Oakwood Village for eight years. She is now a "stay-at-home mom," she said, volunteering at her 6-year-old daughter Thea's school.
"I like to tell Josh's story and the impact it had on myself, the family, our friends and the Twinsburg officers. Josh was the first officer killed in 56 years at that department," she said. "I like to tell the story and some of the things that I've encountered that I hope other people change before something like this would happen in their lives. I talk about the importance of having a will and to have all your details in order just in case. In this line of work, you never know."
She said she also likes to talk about Josh's police dog, Bagio; what it means to be a police officer; and the camaraderie of the "men and women in blue."
an annual event
The Cuyahoga Falls and Silver Lake Police Departments' Police Memorial Service takes place every year on the Wednesday during the national Police Memorial Week and is coordinated by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 49 and Fraternal Order of Police Associate Lodge 31.
The 2014 service in Cuyahoga Falls will be marked with several additions including 41 "thin blue line" flags, a police dog memorial and two engraved granite benches.
Last year, four thin blue line flags were flown at the memorial, said Amos. This black flag with a blue stripe is flown at police officer funerals, Amos said.
This year, the committee purchased more flags and, with the cooperation of the mayor's office and the electric department, 41 thin blue line flags alternating with 41 American flags posted along Broad Boulevard from Front Street to State Road that will fly the entire week of May 12.
On the flag, the top black field represents good, the bottom black field conveys evil and the thin blue line in between is law enforcement separating the two, Amos said. The concept, he added, originates from Britain's "thin red line," its military spread thin in battle to protect against attack.
kudos to canines
Cuyahoga Falls Police Lt. Perry Tabak said he is excited about the new police dog memorial, which consists mainly of a statue that was installed on the Cuyahoga Falls civic campus a couple of years ago.
"The city administration at the time approached me and said they wanted to do something to pay tribute to the police dogs as part of the Arbor Day celebration," Tabak recalled.
K's Statuary on State Road provided a statue of a German Shepherd which was placed next to a dogwood tree that was planted on Arbor Day 2011, he said.
About a year and half ago, after the police memorial was built, members of the memorial committee approached Tabak with the idea of moving the police dog statue and making it a part of the memorial. "I said, 'Man, that's a great idea,'" Tabak said.
Tabak said he and the memorial committee talked to the current administration about their idea.
"[Mayor Don] Walters' administration was supportive," he said.
The memorial committee had a granite piece made to place the statue on after it was refinished and coated in a bronze-colored paint.
"It looks phenomenal and it kind of ties everything together," Tabak said. "The guys on the memorial committee did a great job. I can't give them enough praise for that. I have a lot invested in the dog unit."
Tabak said he has worked 18 years with the CFPD K-9 unit, first as a dog handler and now as an overseer and trainer.
Other changes include two gold plates on the memorial wall were replaced with granite donated by Marlita Marble & Granite. Engraving work was donated by Summit Memorial, he added.