COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The dreary weather added to the somber nature of the annual Columbus Police memorial service Friday morning.
One by one, the names of more than 50 officers killed in the 202-year history of the police division were read aloud. As each name was read, a flower was added to a memorial wreath by members of the police Honor Guard.
One of those names was Joseph Andrew Edwards, who was shot and killed on the job on Aug 28, 1972.
His widow, Valerie, attends the memorial service every year.
“That was the worst day of my life,” Valerie said. “The last time I spoke to him was at three o’clock that afternoon. He called me at work. That was last time. That was it.”
Edwards and his partner were ambushed at Woodland and Maryland Ave.
Edwards had only been on the job a couple of years. Valerie was suddenly on her own with two young children.
“I didn’t have the support system like they do today and it’s most important that they do have it, especially for the kids because it was a traumatic experience for all of us but especially for the children,” Edwards said.
Even though it’s been 46 years, Valerie Edwards says the loss of her husband doesn’t get any easier. In fact she says, “it gets a little harder… because of the way it happened.”
Valerie Edwards says living with a police officer is an amazing journey. But she says the job looks more dangerous now than its ever been.
“No one has respect for them anymore,” Edwards said. “They don’t care about them any more, obviously, because you see what happens to them.”
The most recent Columbus police officer killed in the line of duty was SWAT officer Steven Smith, who was shot during a standoff in April 2016.
Nationwide, 55 police officers have been killed in the line of duty so far this year.