Ceremony, bench honor fallen Ohio State officer
A new bench in front of Blankenship Hall at The Ohio State University honors the only member of the university police department to be killed in the line of duty.
Officer Michael Blankenship was killed Feb. 10, 1997, while responding to a suspicious person call at the Wexner Center for the Arts. The shooter committed suicide days later.
Now, a bench honoring Blankenship’s service resides in front of the building that bears his name.
A dedication ceremony Friday afternoon was part of National Police Week. In addition to recognizing Blankenship’s sacrifice, the ceremony also honored all officers killed in the line of duty.
Dianne Blankenship, Blankenship’s wife, said the dedication is a reminder to her of how university police continue to remember her husband’s service.
“It’s really nice they keep him in their hearts and minds all this time,” she said. “The bench just adds to that. It’s a beautiful bench. I’m really pleased and he would be, too.”
The service had special meaning to the leadership of the police department. Ohio State Police Chief Kimberly Spears-McNatt and Deputy Chief Tracy Hahn worked with Blankenship early in their careers.
Spears-McNatt and Blankenship were instructors in classes teaching students self-defense techniques.
“We want the Blankenship family to know we have not forgotten him,” she said. “We appreciate him and we still miss him to this day.”
Hahn said Blankenship taught her what it took to be a great police officer. She said she thinks of him every day.
“Mike, in particular, taught me patience, taught me when to be compassionate and when to be stern and direct with people,” Hahn said. “We helped people and we had a good time while we were doing it.”
Dianne Blankenship said she appreciates that connection.
“It makes me more proud of him and I know he’s proud of them,” she said. “They’re like family.”
The ceremony at Ohio State included a prayer for fallen officers as well as those still serving. A police officer played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes and police guided a single riderless horse near the bench during the ceremony.
“These officers are so brave and so strong. They put everything they have into their jobs,” Blankenship said. “They leave their families to do this knowing they might not come back. I know how that is. I just love them all. They are special people and they deserve our praise and all the accolades.”