Memorial held in Bethel Park for fallen police officers
The Pittsburgh Police Honor Guard marched in step to begin a ceremony to honor fallen police officers, while members of the Bethel Township Police Department stood at attention with black ribbons across their badges for one that hit close to home.
Bethel Park police Chief Timothy O’Connor and others took the podium outside of the municipal building May 9 to talk about Detective Lynn Sutter, who died in a tactical drug sting operation in 1987. A Purple Heart Medal was presented to a tearful Gordon Sutter, the brother of the fallen township officer.
“A life that cannot be forgotten even 30 years later,” said the Rev. Tom Barnicott, pastor of First Bethel United Methodist Church. “Lynn was never married. He never had children. I’m here to tell you this, and to tell him, ‘Lynn, you had a far bigger family than you ever imagined and that family gathers today to say thank you Detective Sutter.’”
Held in conjunction with National Peace Officers Memorial Day, part of National Police Week to honor those who died in the line of duty, the department honored those who lost their lives both locally and nationally.
“We have lost two members of this department over the years to gunfire,” O’Connor said about the memorial erected outside of the police station that honors Sutter and Joseph Chmelynski, who was killed in 1948. “We have been doing this since 2015 and have a lovely memorial. Not everyone can get to Washington, D.C., so we not only recognize our fallen members but all of our brothers and sisters across the country. We look at law enforcement as one entity. It’s multiple departments with state, county, municipal and federal, but we all can be called on a moment’s notice to make the ultimately sacrifice. That binds us together.”
Sutter’s former partner in the department, John Lee, shared stories of their experiences with the fun, caring man, before a black wreath was placed in front of the memorial to end the tribute.
“Not many of us really remembers the headliners of yesterday and those aren’t second-rate achievers,” Barnicott said. “Applause dies. Achievements are forgotten. The people who make a difference in our lives aren’t necessarily the ones with the most awards or the most money. They are the ones who inspire us to be better people. Lynn Sutter was one of those people.”