Police honor fallen brothers

Published 10:05 pm Monday, May 7, 2012

Law enforcement officers from across the region came to Suffolk on Monday to pay tribute to fallen officers in the Law Enforcement Memorial Day Service.

The officers paid tribute to law enforcement officers from across the nation who died in the line of duty in 2011, and specifically to the six who died from Virginia.

A member of the combined law enforcement honor guard places a wreath from the Fraternal Order of Police during the Law Enforcement Memorial Day Service on Monday.

None of those officers was from Suffolk, but it hurts just the same, said Virginia State Police Capt. R.D. Plott, the keynote speaker for the event.

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“It’s time we remember the friends, often family, that have paid the ultimate price,” he said.

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 attended the ceremony in Suffolk’s City Council chambers.

“Thank you for the risk you take each and every day,” Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett said during the memorial.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson paid homage to the sacrifice made by law enforcement officers, even those who do not pay with their lives.

“They miss birthdays, T-ball games, school plays, dance recitals, holidays and the family events most of us enjoy so often,” Johnson said. “While it seems inadequate, I want to take a moment to say, ‘Thank you.’ We are so proud of each and every one of you.”

Plott said the law enforcement family always pulls together in the event of a crisis.

“Whether you wear blue, brown, green, gray or any combination, you’re part of the law enforcement family,” he said.

During the service, the officers paid tribute to the four of Suffolk’s own who have died in the line of duty — Policeman George T. Smith in 1908, Chief William E. Brinkley in 1918, Patrolman Joseph S. Pratt in 1935 and Police Officer William Andrew “Drew” Henley in 2005.

The first three line-of-duty deaths all were victims of violent gunfire by suspects.

Henley suffered a heart attack on March 19, 2005 after chasing a man who was wanted in another jurisdiction. The street on which Suffolk Police Department’s headquarters now sits was renamed in his honor.