CANTON — The U.S. Marshals Service honored its law enforcement partners from across northern Ohio Thursday with an event at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“We honor the legends of football, and so today, I think, is about honoring some of our living legends of law enforcement, those who come out every day and put on a badge and a gun, go to work, kiss their loved ones goodbye and hope of all hopes that they come home at the end of the day,” said keynote speaker John Clark, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Clark, who served 28 years as a federal marshal and led the agency under President George W. Bush, said law enforcement has changed a lot since his career started.
You’re not just a police officer, you’re not a deputy sheriff, you’re not a U.S. marshal, you’re often times the parent, you’re the guardian, you’re the teacher, you’re the social worker, the counselor,” Clark said. “You’re the one that goes out there into that community and talks to the person who’s in some kind of substance abuse. You’re dealing with all the dangerous things on the street: fentanyl, meth, dysfunctional homes.”
For that reason, it’s a disgrace when law enforcement officers are disrespected, Clark said.
Cleveland radio host, Fox News contributor and guest speaker Geraldo Rivera echoed that sentiment, saying he has loved cops since his days in law school, and extolling the bravery of the Dayton police officers who stopped a mass shooter in August.
“You are soldiers who are here domestically,” Rivera said. “You are the ones that protect us and keep us safe and hold us together. … I wish that every citizen in this country had the same relationship with cops that I do.”
Since Peter J. Elliott, U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio, created the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force, it has captured almost 50,000 violent fugitives to date. The task force consists of teams in Canton, Akron, Cleveland, Painesville, Lorain County, Mansfield, Toledo and Youngstown.
Those teams voted Akron police detective Troy Meech as the Wayne Leon Officer of the Year, citing his work on complex cases that required creative methods to nab some of the worst fugitives.
Stark County Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Van Camp was honored as the Canton team’s nominee for the award. He was noted for being responsible for 12 out-of-state captures, many of them sexual predators.