A bell tolled May 15 at First Responders Park in Old Hilliard in honor and memory of the one law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in Ohio in the past 12 months.

A bell tolled May 15 at First Responders Park in Old Hilliard in honor and memory of the one law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in Ohio in the past 12 months.

The number was far fewer than the six officers killed in the line of duty and honored at last year's ceremony, yet equally significant.

Each year on May 15, the Hilliard Division of Police honors Ohio police officers killed in the line of duty during a ceremony at First Responders Park. The ceremony is held in recognition of Peace Officers Memorial Day.

Congress, on Oct. 1, 1961, created the annual May 15 observance after asking President John F. Kennedy to set aside one day a year to honor local, state and federal law enforcement officers.

Norwich Township firefighter Mike Reiterman performed Amazing Grace. The Boys in Blue and the Blue Ladies, select vocal groups from Hilliard Davidson High School under the direction of Carole Bundy, performed the The Star-Spangled Banner.

"The men and women who serve in law enforcement, who operate as our domestic shield, as protectors, mentors, diplomats, counselors and who carry the torch of justice are an uncommon good," Hilliard Police Chief Doug Francis said. "They are the men and women who run to the crisis, to the accident, to the violent and vicious, (and) to the vulnerable and the weak."

He said the site of the service, First Responders Park, could not be more appropriate.

"It is today, at this special place ... that all of us can take time to remember those who have given their lives in service to us all," he said. "We must reflect on the loss experienced by all of the family, friends and colleagues left behind after the brave men and women sacrificed all."

Francis thanked those gathered for the ceremony and told them, "The police officers and firefighters gathered around you here this evening represent but a small number of the thousands of public safety officials that proudly put on their uniforms every day and are willing to put themselves in harm's way to protect those they serve."

Hilliard Mayor Don Schonhardt also spoke at the event.

"I call upon our citizens to make every day a day to remember our men and women in blue and to pause to remember the officers who didn't go home," Schonhardt said, offering his personal gratitude to Hilliard's officers.

Following the comments of the police chief and mayor, a memorial wreath was placed inside the park.

Francis selected officer Jared Zellers to assist him in placing the wreath.

Zellers has been an officer for 14 months. However, upon graduating from the police academy, he received orders to assume his role as a staff sergeant with the 121st Security Force of the Ohio Air National Guard. He was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Zellers resumed his service to the citizens of Hilliard on May 17.

"I am delighted to welcome (Zellers) home and honored to join him in the placing of the wreath," Francis said.

Following the wreath-laying ceremony, Francis said it was "truly a somber privilege to be here, in our small community in middle America, to honor the fallen heroes of law enforcement."

"Each day (they) put themselves at risk (to keep America safe). Most return home every night ... but some are called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice," said Francis, who announced the name of the officer who died in the line of duty: Vince Bann Jr. of the Alliance Police Department.

Bann died of heart-related complications while on duty Feb. 2.

Sgt. Kelly Weakley of the Ohio State Highway Patrol played taps and a flag was raised. The Rev. Brad Kochis, chaplain of the Norwich Township Fire Department, gave a benediction, concluding the ceremony.