A city says farewell

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 24, 2005

A fallen brother

By Jason Norman

As rain poured from the sky early Wednesday afternoon and mixed with the tears on their faces, hundreds of local police officers said goodbye to one of their own. Officers from Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight County and other areas crowded into Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church to remember a fallen brother.

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In front of a church jammed with his colleagues, friends and family, Officer William &uot;Drew&uot; Henley, who died on Saturday, was remembered as the type of cop, and the type of person, of which there could never be too many.

&uot;(Henley) was a man of courage whose death shocked and saddened not just his immediate family, but the entire community,&uot; said Suffolk Mayor Bobby L. Ralph. &uot;Each day he was out there, he and his colleagues protected us from danger. Officer Henley sought to preserve and protect human lives.

&uot;We honor him, we thank him, and we ask God to bring comfort and peace to the family and friends of Officer Henley.&uot;

Police Chief William A. Freeman remembered the first Suffolk officer to die in the line of duty in 70 years.

&uot;Early Saturday morning,&uot; Freeman said, &uot;Officer Henley left this earthly realm. If he is watching over us, I want him to know that this community was blessed to have him share his life with us. The impact he had on young lives, be it a stern warning or a casual conversation about making the right choices in life,

was sincere. The city is a better place because of him, and we are tasked with keeping alive his legacy by carrying his virtues in our hearts.

&uot;He considered every day precious, and he impacted everyone he met in a positive way. He will never be forgotten, because he left a part of himself in our hearts.&uot;

As Freeman stepped off the stage, &uot;Bad Boys,&uot; the theme from the television show &uot;Cops&uot; began to play, for a moment lightening the darkness of the event.

In remembering one of his best friends, Detective John McCarley tried to answer the question of why someone so young (Henley was 33), who had so many years left to live and had helped so many people, could just disappear from life.

&uot;The light that shines twice as bright only burns half as long,&uot; said a shaken McCarley. &uot;Drew, if you’re listening, I want you to know that you have been and always will be the best friend and brother I’ve ever had.&uot;

In a statement read by her sister, Jessica, Henley’s wife, Christine, remembered meeting her future husband during an Internet chat.

&uot;He was the most loving man that I’ve ever known,&uot; she said. &uot;He was so proud to wear the uniform. His fellow officers were more than just his co-workers; they were his brothers and sisters.&uot;

Henley died of an undisclosed medical condition after apprehending a suspect on Webb Street, where he collapsed, on Saturday.

As mourners walked by Henley to pay their respects, they noticed a small piece of paper on the edge of the casket. It was written by a Kilby Shores Elementary student.

&uot;I didn’t know you,&uot; the note read, &uot;but thanks for all that you did to keep me and my family safe.&uot;