While the Christmas season is normally associated with good will, a local pub has taken the opportunity to give a stark reminder.
The owner of Dwyer’s Irish Pub has posted 158 photos of law enforcement officers who’ve died in the line of duty across the nation during the past year. The photos rest in 5-by-7-inch frames on the establishment’s patio in front of a towering Christmas tree on Webster Street.
“Last year we got a big tree that we put up and we put blue lights on it as a memorial to fallen police officers,” said Greg Stenis, who has owned the pub for the last 15 years. “We just expanded on that with the photos this year. When you see their faces it’s kind of different.”
Stenis has been an auxiliary member of the North Tonawanda Police Department for the past eight years, and often assists full-time officers with traffic control and patrols on a volunteer basis.
He said he has traveled to Washington, D.C. each of the last four years for a “police week” gathering, where there is a similar tribute to officers each May. Stenis said he has met several officers there who have survived violence on the job. He recalled meeting one California officer over a beer a few years ago.
“We didn’t really talk that long,” he said. “This past May I ran into his wife. Her husband was killed.”
Stenis said that he’s simply trying to put things into perspective during the holiday season, when people tend to get stressed out over last-minute shopping trips and family get-togethers.
Most of the photos were retrieved from an organization’s website called Officers Down Memorial Page. Two of them include K9’s killed in action, including the recent death of Rocky of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department.
The memorial will remain up through the New Year, though Stenis said there is a strong possibility more photos could be added by then.
“Five guys got killed last week alone,” he said. “Some of the killings are just so senseless.”