Huntington's fallen officers honored

Huntington police officers honor their fallen brethren with a 21-gun salute Tuesday. (WCHS/WVAH)

They all had names and stories, but for Huntington’s fallen police officers, their families were the ones left to tell them.

Crystal Acker’s father, Paul Harmon, was killed on the job in December 1981.

“It was four days before I turned 6,” Acker said. “(My mom) was like, 'Daddy’s went to heaven. He’s not coming home,' and I screamed.”

Harmon is one of Huntington’s eight fallen officers from Isaac Mitchel in 1876 to James Mills in 1982.

All of them were honored at an annual ceremony Tuesday at the Huntington police station.

“It breaks my heart that we need police, that they have to walk away from their families, and they may not come home, Acker said.

Hank Dial spoke of the sacrifice every officer makes when putting on the uniform, and, as Huntington’s new police chief, it’s up to him to ensure no more names are added to the fallen roster.

“We absolutely want them to make it home every night,” Dial said. “We train hard, we invest in that. Them and the safety of our community is priority No. 1.”

Acker said there has been one silver lining to her dad’s death.

“They do teach my dad’s case,” she said.

Each new officer now knows her dad’s name and his story, and she hopes that’s enough to keep those who wear the uniform safe.

“We pray, we hope, and we train to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Dial said.

In a proclamation, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams also declared May 15 Peace Officer Memorial Day within the city.

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