Crowds line streets to honor slain officer

Published: Tuesday, November 12, 2019 @ 6:56 PM

Funeral procession for Dayton Police Det. Jorge Del Rio on Far Hills Ave

As hundreds of law enforcement officers stood at attention Tuesday in frigid temperatures outside UD Arena, a 21-gun salute boomed, four helicopters flew in a missing man formation and police dispatchers read a final End of Watch radio transmission in honor of fallen Dayton Police Detective Jorge Del Rio.

RELATED: Del Rio remembered as family man, American hero

“Although you are gone, you will never be forgotten,” the End of Watch transmission said. “Your badge number will be permanently assigned to you, because there will be no one that can fill your shoes. Rest in peace our friend. We’ll take it from here.”

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Along with Monday’s visitation and Tuesday’s funeral, Del Rio was honored with several law enforcement traditions.

Outside the arena, hundreds of law enforcement officers lined up, Dayton police in front. The immense block of officers was at least eight people deep in some places and 100 yards wide.

A riderless horse with boots placed backwards was led past Del Rio’s coffin and Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl presented Kathy Del Rio with the flag from her husband’s casket.

After the ceremony a long police procession drove through Dayton, Oakwood and Kettering.

Many who didn’t know Del Rio gathered along the route of the hour-long procession from the arena to the funeral home.

First Dayton police cruisers left the arena parking lot, then a contingent of other agencies’ vehicles followed, as the procession snaked from Edwin C. Moses to Third Street.

Hordes of people gathered outside City Hall. Barriers were placed at Ludlow and Wilkinson streets to stop crossing traffic.

David Thomas, a captain with the Dayton Fire Department, was on Third Street along the procession route hanging an American flag. Two Dayton fire engines were parked at the intersection of Third and Perry streets, the ladders extended and crossed to hold the flag.

Thomas said it was important for him to be out in the cold on Tuesday.

“We’re all honored to be here, to show our support,” Thomas said. “It shows each other that we truly care about each other, that’s the biggest thing. We are a family and we do look out for each other.”

People could have left the streets after the hearse passed, but they stayed to watch every cruiser go by in the procession.

Regina Payne made sure to get to Far Hills Avenue in Kettering early enough to get a spot right next to the road. It was snowing, but she stood there for close to an hour, holding an American flag.

“I want to honor Detective Del Rio,” Payne said. “He lost his life fighting the drug war in the community.”

Many families with young children came out to show their support. Among the youngest supporters was 6-year-old Colby Mitchell.

He held a sign that he made with his family. It simply said “thank you.”

Kettering-Fairmont High School senior Parker Lucas was standing on Far Hills when the procession passed.

He couldn’t put into words why he felt he needed to show his support at the procession.

“I don’t really know that much about him, but I am just out here supporting him and his family,” Lucas said. “It’s just something you do as a human being. Letting his family know that everybody has their back through the worst of it.”

Del Rio’s family mapped out the route of the procession, said Dayton Police spokeswoman Cara Zinski-Neace.

They wanted to make sure the procession drove past the Dayton Safety Building and a few other key points before going to the funeral home in Washington Twp.

There was a private memorial for Del Rio at the funeral home. His family, close friends and colleagues remembered Del Rio in all his capacities.

They remembered Del Rio, the G.I. Joe collector, the reptile enthusiast and foodie. They remembered Del Rio the immigrant, the “consummate professional” and family man. They remembered Del Rio, the teacher, teammate and friend.