Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Constable killed in '22 gets a hero's memorial

By Michael D. Clark and David Eck
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — For nearly 80 years after Fairfield Township Constable Emery Farmer was found dead next to his police motorcycle, he went without a hero's memorial.

        But in ceremonies Monday at Greenwood Cemetery, Constable Farmer was recognized as having been killed in the line of duty.

        In addition to police honors at the cemetery, his name was recently added to the national police memorial in Washington, D.C.

        Each year, this week is set aside across the nation to honor police officers killed in the line of duty. Police departments across the Tristate are holding memorial ceremonies for fallen officers.

        Constable Farmer was 23 when he died in 1922. He was thrown from his motorcycle and was found near railroad tracks along Dixie Highway. He died at a hospi tal.

        No one could determine the cause of death, but many at the time suspected foul play by one of the many people Constable Farmer had nabbed for rum-running and speeding.

"Taps' for one
        On Monday, a dozen police officers from across Butler County silently marched to the strain of “Taps” being played by a group of kilted pipers. A Butler County sheriff's helicopter did a flyover, a caisson stood nearby and Butler County Sheriff Harold ""Don” Gabbard presented Constable Farmer's daughter — Erma Farmer Norton — with the flag. Mrs. Norton was 2 when her father died.

        “I was very moved,” said Connie Wiggers, Mrs. Norton's daughter. “This has added some closure to it.”

        The United States averages more than 150 officer deaths a year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington, D.C.

        Covington Assistant Police Chief Thomas Scho necker said the memorializing of dead officers — combined with the growth in citizen-oriented police programs in recent years — has enhanced relationships between police and the public.

        “The community and police are working more closely. We have a citizen's academy, citizen's neighborhood watch and police ride-along programs. All three programs bring citizens and police together,” Assistant Chief Schonecker said.

Public support
        The evidence, he said, is the increased attendance at police memorial services in the Tristate.

        “We are seeing a lot more of the public at memorials. It makes all the officers feel needed and wanted,” he said.

        The Cincinnati Police Division will commemorate its fallen with a march Friday. After a noon ceremony on Fountain Square, officers will march to the police memorial on Ezzard Charles Drive in the West End.

        The event attracts officers from departments throughout the Tristate.

        It was the 1997 shootings of Cincinnati Police Officer Dan Pope and Spc. Ron Jeter that has helped focus more attention locally on police memorials, said Ed Bridgeman, who heads the criminal justice program at Clermont College of the University of Cincinnati.

        “That turned the corner ... here in Cincinnati. To lose two officers at same time under such terrible conditions was a cold water dash in the face for the public,” said Mr. Bridgeman, a retired police chief and former president of the Hamilton County Police Chiefs Association.


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