Fallen officers remembered

Published 8:45 pm Friday, May 7, 2010

Tina Griswold was a short woman, whose fellow officers frequently kidded her about needing a booster seat in her patrol car.

Ronald Owens, a 12-year veteran of the Lakewood, Wash. police department, always had a smile on his face.

Mark Renninger, a 13-year veteran of law enforcement, was a “charismatic” man.


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Gregory Richards was nicknamed “PermaGrin” in the department because he smiled so much.

The four public servants were gunned down in a coffee shop in Washington on Nov. 29, 2009 as they prepared for their shift. They were hardly alone — a total of 116 law enforcement officers nationwide died in the line of duty last year.

Law enforcement officers in Suffolk gathered Friday to remember their colleagues nationwide who made the ultimate sacrifice for public safety.

“They each had a sense of commitment,” said keynote speaker Mark Marshall, chief of police in Smithfield. “Today and next week, we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice by purposely putting themselves in harm’s way.”

Personnel from Suffolk Police Department, Suffolk Sheriff’s Office, the Western Tidewater Regional Jail, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Virginia State Police and neighboring jurisdictions, including Portsmouth, attended the ceremony.

In addition to the officers nationwide who died in the last year, the Suffolk department recognized its own four officers who have died in the line of duty.

“Five years ago we lost Officer Drew Henley, a good friend of mine,” Lt. Allan Iversen said during the service. The last line-of-duty death in Suffolk before Henley’s was nearly 70 years prior.

“I hope we go another 70, or 100, or 500 years,” Iversen said.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson honored the daily sacrifices of Suffolk officers, from times of crisis such as the 2008 tornado to more uplifting events such as the yearly National Night Out celebration.

“’Thank you’ is what we truly want to say,” Johnson said. “There is no quality of life unless we all feel safe.”

Recognized from the Suffolk Police Department were Henley, who died of a heart attack on March 19, 2005 after chasing and apprehending a man who had outstanding warrants in New Jersey for assault and battery; Patrolman Joseph S. Pratt, who was shot twice in the abdomen on Oct. 19, 1935 while serving a warrant on a suspect; Chief of Police William Brinkley, who was shot on Dec. 2, 1918 while trying to arrest a man who was carrying illegal liquor; and Policeman George T. Smith, who was shot on July 4, 1908 by a man he had arrested earlier in the day for being drunk in public.

The ceremony also recognized more recent deaths close to home, including the three law enforcement officers who died in Virginia in 2009: Corporal Christopher Paschal of the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office, Investigator Chadwick Carr of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, and Deputy Sheriff Christopher Ray of the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office. All died in car accidents.