National Police Week: Police, family reflect on dedication and dangers of law enforcement

Honoring officers who have fallen in the line of duty on National Police Week

Honoring officers who have fallen in the line of duty on National Police Week

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — This week marks National Police Week — and Wednesday was Peace Officers Memorial Day, a time dedicated to remembering and honoring officers who have fallen in the line of duty. News10NBC’s Marsha Augustin explored the personal and community impacts of these losses.

Wayne County Sheriff Robert Milby and Pam Fiorica, wife of retired Rochester Police Department officer Johnnie Fiorica, shared their thoughts during such a poignant time.

Johnnie, who was on the job 30 years and who served on the violent crime task force — and who’s now host of The Crime Dawg Podcast — has seen first-hand the dangers associated with police work. Pam emphasized the constant fear that accompanied her husband’s career, revealing, “There were times that I’d be like, ‘please don’t let Blanchard show up at the house.’ or one of his closest — ‘please, I don’t want to see Teddy.'”

Pam expressed how crucial it was to never let small disagreements interfere with the love and gratitude she felt for her husband, stating, “All the time — absolutely let it go. Revisit four hours, eight hours, sometimes 22 hours.” She never let the small things get in the way of telling him “I love you” before he walked out the door.

Pam says Johnnie and his friends were always in her daily prayers — friends like Officer Tony Mazurkiewicz, a Rochester officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2022. More recently, Genesee County Sheriff’s Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello died in the line of duty in March in Batavia.

Losses have been felt deeply within their community and nationwide. In 2021, the FBI reported 73 officers killed in the line of duty. The number was 61 in 2022, 20 in 2023, and the number continues with 22 officers so far this year.

Pam says those numbers are terrifying and understands why her husband kept a lot of the dangers of the job to himself.

Reflecting on these numbers, Sheriff Milby voiced a strong sentiment: “There is no excuse for that, there is no justification for that.” He highlighted the importance of National Police Week as a time to appreciate the dedication of those in law enforcement.

Milby added, “I did not grow thinking that the police were the enemy. I grew up thinking that police was a very prestigious career. They were to be respected.”

The FBI notes that more than 24,000 fallen officers are commemorated on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., and 282 officers were added to the memorial this year.

Milby affirmed the unwavering commitment of law enforcement, “We’ll continue to rise to meet the need of our community no matter what those dangers are.”

Chief Michael Wood of the Greece Police Department, with 37 years of experience, also spoke on the severity of losing officers. “It’s a solemn day when we lose the life of an officer and any life,” he said.

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