Clearwater Fire and Rescue Medic Travis Connolly rang the bell during the Florida 2013 Roll Call and Clearwater Memorial Roll Call, in which all the officers who have died in the line of duty were remembered.
CLEARWATER – Pouring rain may have forced the service indoors, but the weather couldn’t stand in the way of honoring Clearwater’s fallen officers. Clearwater police officers, local dignitaries, firefighters with Clearwater Fire and Rescue, members of the U.S. Air Force and members of the public gathered together with surviving family members of the fallen officers for the 33rd annual Police Memorial Service on May 2 at the Capitol Theatre.
The first person with Clearwater Police to die in the line of duty was Officer Harry L. Conyers, who died on Jan. 22, 1967, followed by Officer Peter M. Price on Feb. 12, 1969. A year later, Officer John F. Passer died on July 12, 1970. The last man to die in the line of duty was Officer Ronald J. Mahony on July 13, 1977.
Among the family members present at the service was Dwayne Mahony, brother of Ron Mahony. Dwayne of Crawfordville said his brother died while trying to arrest the driver of a stolen vehicle. Ron was the oldest of five siblings and was just shy of his 22nd birthday, Dwayne said.
“We were very close,” Dwayne said in a written statement. “Following his death, his fellow officers told me, ‘We are your brothers now and forever.’ In the years since, this bond borne of great loss has remained strong. Last year, when my sister (Joanne Howell) suddenly experienced the winter of her life in a losing battle with cancer, it was the officers of CPD that extended a helping hand and stood vigil to the end. Many of these officers are too young to have known my brother yet carry on the tradition of honoring my family for our loss of a son, a brother, who fell while trying to be that thin, blue line that separates civil society from the criminal element.”
The service began with a bagpipe processional by the Clearwater Police Pipe and Drum Corps. Clearwater Police Detective Jonathan Walser, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #10 president, thanked all of the officers for risking their lives each day. He acknowledged that the lodge had two losses in the last year – Joanne Howell and U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who had always been a huge supporter of the lodge and the police force. His widow, Beverly Young, addressed the crowd.
“My heart goes out to the families who we honor today,” Young said. “The families were left behind by some of America’s great heroes. Cops are a special breed. They wake up in the morning, they put on a very special uniform, they kiss their loved ones goodbye, fully knowing there is a chance that they are not coming home. It takes a very special kind of person to make that kind of commitment. A commitment to do the right thing, to protect those who cannot protect themselves against those who have no regard for human life.”
Walser grew emotional as he spoke about the sacrifices that officers make and as he read the names of Clearwater’s fallen officers.
“Today, as we look out on our brothers and sisters who wear the badge, we know that their sacrifice will not be in vain,” Walser said. “For they will live on in generations of our brothers and sisters who continue to serve in the ranks of the thin, blue line. To you, my brothers and sisters, to you my family, we owe a debt of gratitude.”
Corporal B. Rogers read the names of all the Florida law enforcement officers and K9s who died on duty in 2013 as well as the names of the Clearwater officers. Clearwater Fire and Rescue Fire Medic, Travis Connolly, rang a ceremonial bell one time each for all of the names spoken. Outside, the Clearwater Police Honor Guard fired a 21-gun salute, and a riderless horse walked on stage. The room was silent as Taps was played from the balcony and the police honor guard presented the memorial wreaths.
Other family members present at the service were Jeff Howell, brother-in-law to Ron Mahony; Judy Price, sister to Ron Mahony; Doris Mahony, mother of Ron Mahony; and Sandy (Conyers) Luoma, daughter of Harry L. Conyers.