On anniversary, Pennsylvania State Police honor 98 who have died in service

In a video ceremony at the State Police Academy in Hershey on Saturday, Pennsylvania State Police paused to honor the 98 members who have died in the line of duty since the department was created in 1905.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the department could not hold its annual ceremony, which marks its anniversary as the first uniformed police agency of its kind in the country.

“Although circumstances outside our control prevent us from gathering together, the importance of today remains paramount,” said Col. Robert Evanchick, state police commissioner. “It is a reminder that throughout the years, our personnel have responded to trying times by overcoming all challenges they encounter. I am confident that together, we will help Pennsylvania overcome the current public health crisis.”

State police instead shared a tribute video, which contains remarks and a reading of the names of those who died in service. Footage from past ceremonies is also featured in the video.

Gov. Tom Wolf proclaimed May 2 as Pennsylvania State Police Day, saying “today serves as a reminder of the dangers faced by men and women in uniform and the sacrifices they are prepared to make in service to the commonwealth.

“I ask all Pennsylvanians to pause and remember not only the 98 men who lost their lives, but also all those who have served and are currently serving.”

The first trooper to die in the line of duty was John F. Henry, who was 31 when he was shot in 1906 while attempting to arrest heavily armed fugitives in Florence, Jefferson County, according to the state police tribute page.

The most recent death was of 26-year-old Trooper Michael Stewart III, who died on July 14, 2017, when his patrol vehicle collided with a garbage truck that was pulling out of a parking lot in Westmoreland County.

An online version of the PSP Memorial Wall, with biographical information and photos of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, is at psp.pa.gov.

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