Criminal Justice Update
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Criminal Justice Update

Forever remembered

This year’s annual Ohio Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony will honor eight law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in the past several years. Four died of COVID-19 contracted while on the job. Additionally, the names of seven officers from the 1900s will be added to the memorial wall.

Deputy Daniel J. Kin | Wyandot County Sheriff’s Office | EOW: Dec. 15, 2022
Deputy Kin had been with the Wyandot County Sheriff’s Office for just more than a year when he died, but his personality was already a hallmark of the department. “He could walk into any room and brighten up everybody’s day,” Sheriff Todd Frey said. “He had a passion for this job. He had a positive outlook on life. He just got along with everyone so well.” Kin was killed in a crash in Pickaway County while transporting a prisoner. He was 34 and had previously worked in the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office and Carey Police Department. He is survived by his wife and two young sons.

Deputy Matthew E. Yates | Clark County Sheriff’s Office | EOW: July 24, 2022
Deputy Yates followed his father into law enforcement because he believed “a good police officer could make a difference.” He lived that philosophy during his 15-year career with the sheriff’s office. Tragically, he was shot and killed when he and other deputies responded to a call of shots fired at a mobile-home park east of Springfield. He was 41. Sheriff Deborah Burchett remembered Yates as “a warrior” who “devoted his life to making his community better.” He is survived by his wife, daughter and two sons.

Officer Dominic M. francis | Bluffton Police Department | EOW: March 31, 2022
Officer Francis was part of the fabric of his community, someone who touched a lot of lives in many ways. Besides his police work, he was a volunteer firefighter and helped at his high-school alma mater as a coach, substitute teacher and bus driver. A speeding car being pursued by Ohio State troopers fatally struck Francis as he was deploying tire-puncturing strips on southbound I-75 in Hancock County. He was 42 and had served in law enforcement for 19 years. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Agent John D. Stayrook | Medina County Drug Task Force | EOW: Feb. 6, 2022
Agent Stayrook was passionate about enforcing the law and bettering the communities he served, family and co-workers said. “John was a true hero and dedicated his life to serving others and making Ohio a safer place for all of us,” said Darren Stout, the task force director. Stayrook was 60 when he died of complications from COVID-19. He joined the task force in 2007 after serving four years with a similar task force in Wayne County. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Patrolman Sean E. VanDenberg | Lawrence Twp. Police Department | EOW: Dec. 25, 2021
Patrolman VanDenberg always found good in people, both on and off the job. “No matter what the call was, he always gave people the benefit of the doubt and did everything he could to put them in a better place,” Lawrence Township Police Chief Dave Brown said. VanDenberg contracted COVID-19 after arresting a suspect with the virus. He died on Christmas morning at age 53, his eighth year with the department. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.

Deputy Robert C. Mills | Butler County Sheriff’s Office | EOW: Sept. 12, 2021
Deputy Mills was a generous, kindhearted, disciplined and passionate person who treated everyone with respect. He fiercely loved his friends and family. “He was just a great, great person,” Sheriff Richard Jones said. “He never forgot where he came from and always gave back till his last breath.” Mills, 57, had been with the sheriff’s office for 32 years when he died of COVID-19. He had retired in 2019, only to return several months later. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

Officer Edward L. Stewart | Akron Police Department | EOW: Feb. 12, 2021
Officer Stewart was quick to respond to colleagues needing assistance, even in the most critical moments. He was equally known for his devotion to his community and his kindness to everyone he met. Blessed with a unique thirst for knowledge, he welcomed the opportunity to share his insight and experience with others in the department, regardless of rank. The 27-year-veteran of the Akron Police Department died at age 60 after a long battle with COVID-19. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

Officer Kenneth C. Jones | Akron Police Department | EOW: Nov. 7, 2020
Officer Jones “was literally the kindest person I’ve ever known,” said Capt. Kris Beitzel, who joined the force with Jones in 1994. “That came from his faith in God. It came from just the general goodness of who he was.” The 55-year-old died of a heart attack after trying to quell a domestic event that became violent. Friends and family described him as a big kid at heart, fond of Marvel comics, Star Wars movies and Cedar Point Amusement Park. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.