Law enforcement officials from around the state gathered Wednesday at the Criminal Justice Academy to recognize the lives of law enforcement officers who died in 2014, whether in the line of duty, still active with their department or retired.
Of the 136 names that were read – a bell tolling for each to signify their end of watch – three of the officers died in the line of duty. Col. Mike Oliver of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said the memorial is a way to honor those who have died that served honorably.
“We want to remind (their families) that they will always be a part of our family of law enforcement,” Oliver said.
The three officers who were killed in the line of duty were:
▪ Charleston County sheriff’s deputy Joseph Matuskovic, who was shot and killed during a disturbance call on Sept. 8, 2014. Matuskovic was a 17-year veteran of law enforcement. He is survived by three children and his fiancee.
▪ Summerville patrolman Robert Blajszczak, who died six days after suffering a heart attack during a traffic stop on Oct. 26, 2014. Blajszczak served with the Summerville Police Department for seven years and had previously worked for the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, the Moncks Corner Police Department and the Edisto Beach Police Department.
▪ Clarendon County sheriff’s deputy Holmes Smith, who was killed Nov. 5, 2014, after he was involved in a single-vehicle crash on U.S. 521. Smith was returning from a meeting with South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agents about an auto-theft investigation. Smith served the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Department for 19 years. He is survived by his wife and five children.
Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook, who read some of the officers’ names, said he was thrilled to be a part of the service.
“I witnessed a line-of-duty death early in my career, and it’s something that has stuck with me forever,” Holbrook said. “This is a wonderful tribute to those that have fallen in the line of duty and those that have passed that have served honorably.”
Although Gov. Nikki Haley was not present at the memorial service, a statement read at the service said she declared May 6 as South Carolina Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Day.
Reach Cahill at (803) 771-8305.