Girard’s slain officer honored in DC

AP President Donald Trump arrives for the 37th annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service on Capitol Hill Tuesday in Washington.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump paid emotional tribute Tuesday to fallen law enforcement officers and the loved ones who carry on without them, saying those who wore the uniform “were among the bravest Americans to ever live.”

“They made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live in safety and in peace,” Trump said.

Slain Girard police officer Justin Leo, gunned down while he was on duty in October, was among the officers honored at Tuesday’s event in Washington, D.C. Leo was one of five Ohioans, along with a K-9 officer, to be remembered during the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony. His family attended the events in Washington, including one in which the names of the fallen officers were read.

“We are so proud of our son. We’ve always been. These events magnify that,” David Leo, father of Officer Leo, told Tribune Chronicle news partner WKBN TV-27.

The Leos had the opportunity to sit near the president at the service, with David Leo describing him as an “avid supporter of law enforcement.”

Trump demonstrated public empathy Tuesday as he shared the stories of some of the families gathered in the crowd.

Near the end of his speech, he invited onstage the mother and other loved ones of a slain police officer from his native New York City. Officer Miosotis Familia, a mother of three, was killed in July 2017 after being shot in the head by a man who fired into a parked police vehicle. The gunman was later fatally shot by police.

After inviting Familia’s police partner to say a few words, Trump told her children how proud their mother was of them.

“She’s looking down, and she’s so proud of you. She’s so proud of you. And you are great,” Trump said. “Your mom’s legacy will never, ever die. You have good genes. Right? Good genes. The best genes I’ve ever seen.”

The president also used the yearly tribute at an outdoor memorial near the Capitol to press Congress to prioritize border security. He said that includes ending policies that allow individuals he described as “violent criminals” back onto the streets.

Trump issued the plea after speaking about Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez, who died last year from injuries suffered while he and his partner responded to reports of unknown activity near a border town southeast of El Paso, Texas.

Trump said government’s first duty is to protect its people and that the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Border Patrol agency, is “on the front lines of this incredible, heroic fight.”

“That is why we are calling on Congress to secure our borders, support our border agents, stop sanctuary cities and shut down policies that release violent criminals back into our communities,” he said. “We don’t want it any longer. We’ve had it. Enough is enough.”

David Leo told the media that he and his wife were overcome with emotion and were grateful for the support of the local community and the nation as they mourn the loss of their son. He said being around other families who have experienced the same loss is helpful.

“It’s really the first time we’ve been with a group of our peers. We’ve been offered a lot of services. In October, we are going to attend a parent’s retreat in Little Rock, Arkansas just for parents of fallen officers,” Leo said.