Memorial honoring Allegheny County’s fallen police officers dedicated
The 75 police officers whose names are etched on the panels of the Allegheny County Police Fallen Officer Memorial in McCandless did more than protect and serve.
They gave all.
On Friday, a new memorial was dedicated to replace one that was nearly 20 years old and had fallen into disrepair on the hillside above the Allegheny County Police Academy. The mood was somber in the chilly sunshine during the ceremony, which included bagpipes, salutes and prayers for the fallen officers, their families and current police.
The fallen police who are remembered include Verona police Officer Joseph P. Zanella, who was shot and killed Sept. 19, 1969, by jail escapee Stanley B. Hoss Jr. Zanella was 25 and married, with a son and a daughter.
The shooting was notorious, and the manhunt for Hoss was covered in all of the newspapers, said retired Whitehall police Chief William Schmitt.
Zanella’s name was lost in most of the coverage, Schmitt said, and when asked, many wondered: “Who was the officer?” It motivated Schmitt and others in law enforcement to spearhead a countywide memorial to the police who were killed in the line of duty.
The first memorial was dedicated in 1974. Zanella’s son was in attendance at the ceremony.
“That’s my daddy,” the boy told Schmitt.
Those three words made the effort to build the memorial worth it, Schmitt said.
The memorial was rebuilt and rededicated in 2000.
The new and completely rebuilt memorial dedicated Friday was a project more than five years in the making, retired police academy director and former county police Lt. Richard Mullen said. The 19-year-old memorial had fallen into disrepair, Mullen said.
Everyone he talked to about refurbishing the memorial thought it was a good idea, but it took until this year for county and local officials to make it happen, Mullen said.
It’s fitting the ceremony was held the same week as Veterans’ Day, county Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.
“This is honoring those who serve us at home,” Fitzgerald said.
Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough Jr. was serving dual roles as he attended, he said. He was representing the county as the head of its department but also was there as a surviving son of an officer on the memorial.
Coleman McDonough Sr. was a Pittsburgh officer killed in 1965.
The memorial brings comfort and solace to surviving family members, he said.
“We thank you for the persistence to get this done,” McDonough said.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .