(Video courtesy of NewsChannel5/newsnet5.com)
Barbara Long sat in her usual front seat as the names of Akron’s fallen officers were tolled one by one.
Absent from the side of the 81-year-old woman was her son, former Officer Russ Long, who for 20 or so years had made the annual trek with her to the Akron Police Memorial Service.
On Wednesday, Russ Long took on a different role as his name was read at the service for the first time, along with the department’s 23 other officers killed in the line of duty.
Russ Long, who was paralyzed in 1991 following an on-duty crash while chasing a suspect, died in August at the age of 51. On Friday, his name will be formally added to the Akron police memorial outside their department during a ceremony at 1 p.m.
Long is also being honored, and his name will be inscribed on the National Memorial on May 15 as a part of National Police Memorial Day and National Police Memorial Week, May 12-17 in Washington, D.C.
Barbara Long joined other survivors Wednesday by adorning a white carnation to the department’s memorial honoring the other fallen officers during the service at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge at Wolter Park.
“It’s been a bad year because Russ was ill [with cancer] and in the hospital the whole time,” his mother said following the service. “So, we knew the end was in sight.
“But he was a brother to these officers. So, this makes me feel better, makes me feel good, just to know we’re not alone.”
The service included Cleveland police bagpipes, the Akron Police Color Guard and Miller South students playing violins to welcome the crowd of more than 100.
Police Chief James Nice, Mayor Don Plusquellic and police Chaplain Robert Denton offered words in memory of the officers killed in the line of duty.
Nice spoke specifically of Russ Long, who remained active with the department by helping train other officers, despite his physical challenges.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Russ is one of the bravest, the bravest, officer I ever met,” Nice said. “He will forever remain in our hearts.”