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Family members ensure fallen Allegheny County officers not forgotten

| Saturday, May 3, 2014, 5:48 p.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
With her grandmother on her arm, Brooklyn Mayhle, 8, places a flower honoring her father during the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on the North Shore, Saturday, May 3, 2014. Brooklyn is the daughter of slain Pittsburgh Police Officer Stephen Mayhle, while her grandmother, Marjorie, is the mother of Officer Mayhle.

If Penn Hills police Officer Michael Crawshaw, an avid outdoorsman, had been alive on Saturday, he probably would have been heading to a family camp with his father and brother.

“Mike will be gone five years on Dec. 6. I wish I could tell you the pain gets less, but it doesn't,” said his mother, Linda Crawshaw, 62, of Shaler at the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial ceremony. “Not that you don't think of Mike every day, every minute of the day some days, but it's just, everything comes rushing back (during the ceremony).”

More than 60 people gathered on the North Shore in front of the police memorial monument near Heinz Field for the annual Law Enforcement Officers Memorial ceremony. Family members of several officers killed in the line of duty, including Pittsburgh police Officers Eric G. Kelly, Stephen J. Mayhle and Paul J. Sciullo II, listened as speakers read their loved ones' names among a long list of Allegheny County officers.

Kelly probably would have been cutting the grass at his mother's house or spending time with his daughters or sister, said his mother, Frances Kelly.

“I'm here to honor my son and keep his memory alive and to remind people how tragic it is — that people think they can take a life and nothing will happen to them,” said Frances Kelly, 65, of the West End, wiping tears from her eyes. “I miss him every day — whether its looking at his picture at my house or (missing) him bringing his family over. He used to stop over all the time.

“It's all the little things. You never realize the little stuff until they're gone.”

Many family members carried white flowers to the memorial while their officer's name was read, including Mayhle's two young daughters accompanied by his parents, and Sciullo's parents.

“We would have been out playing golf today,” said Sciullo's father, Max Sciullo of Bloomfield. “Everybody sees police in blue but they don't know they're family too — they're husbands, they're wives, brothers, sisters, they're sons and daughters.”

Common Pleas Judge Mark V. Tranquilli, a former prosecutor who headed the county's homicide unit, was the main speaker. He told the families that nobody really knows what they've gone through except other families in the same situation.

Tranquilli won convictions against Richard Poplawski, who gunned down Kelly, Mayhle and Sciullo on April 4, 2009; Ronald Robinson, who gunned down Crawshaw on Dec. 6, 2009; and Leslie Mollett, who gunned down state police Cpl. Joseph Pokorny on Dec. 12, 2005.

“One of the things that got me through (the trials) was the thought of the families. I knew we had to get some measure of justice,” Tranquilli told the families. “Remember that your departed was different. Their lives did not simply end. They were given so others could live. The officers we know did not merely lose their lives. They sacrificed them.”

Cmdr. Donna Best, of the Allegheny County Sheriff's office, said 12 new names will be added to the memorial this year, of officers killed in the line of duty as far back as 1853 who were not already on the memorial.

Rocco, a Pittsburgh police canine officer, was the only officer to be killed in Allegheny County in the last 12 months. Best said police are hoping to raise $50,000 to add a canine memorial.

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