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A sea of hundreds upon hundreds of empty seats draped in black surrounded those in attendance Tuesday inside The Great Auditorium

The 454 empty seats represented the men and women in law enforcement known to have died in the line of duty in New Jersey since 1854. The event was the annual service to honor them.

Each empty seat was labeled with a name of the fallen, including three names added to the list in the past year. Some were remembered by loved ones with a simple rose placed on the back of the seat, but none were to be forgotten by any of their families or law enforcement personnel in attendance.

“We pray every year that no one will be killed, but every year we have a name to add,” lamented Neptune Police Chief Howard O’Neil, chairman of the committee that coordinates the memorial service each year.

Two large-screens inside the Great Auditorium displayed the names and faces of all 454 fallen officers.

The service was aimed generally at remembering all of those members of law enforcement who died but focused on the three officers who were added to the long list: Jersey City Detective Marc Anthony DiNardo, Cpl. Christopher Milito of the Delaware River Port Authority police, and Atlantic City police Officer Kevin Wilkins.

Source: Charles Webster for Daily Record.

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