Police honor their fallen in a new way

Published 9:42 pm Friday, May 15, 2020

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The Suffolk Police Department spent some time honoring the fallen and teaching new recruits about the history of the department on Friday.

Friday was observed as Peace Officers Memorial Day. As the department was unable to hold its usual commemoration, some department veterans took fresh recruits to Cedar Hill Cemetery to show respect to the fallen.

The department has had four line-of-duty deaths in its history, and three of them are buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery.

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“We wanted to do something special, something different,” the department stated in a Facebook post. “We wanted to tell their stories — not to just show respect for our fallen, but to honor them.”

The new recruits, who will begin the academy in less than two weeks, restored the decades-old gravesites of the three fallen buried at Cedar Hill.

“With a little love and care and a lot of respect, the sites were cleaned and flowers were placed at their graves,” the post stated.

The department’s four line-of-duty deaths are Officer George T. Smith, Chief William E. Brinkley, Officer Joseph Pratt and Officer William A. “Drew” Henley.

Smith, Brinkley and Pratt are the three buried at Cedar Hill.

Policeman George T. Smith died July 4, 1908, after being shot by a man he had arrested earlier in the day for being drunk in public.

Police Chief William E. Brinkley died Dec. 2, 1918, after attempting to apprehend a man wanted in another state. He had received a telegram notifying him the escaped convict would be arriving at the Suffolk train station with illegal liquor. The suspect opened fire immediately upon seeing Brinkley and another officer. He had been with the agency for 18 years.

Patrolman Joseph Pratt died after being shot twice in the abdomen on Oct. 19, 1935. He had been trying to serve a warrant on the shooter for failing to pay child support. Pratt — who was the other officer with Chief Brinkley in the deadly 1918 train station incident — had been with the agency for 27 years.

Police Officer William Andrew “Drew” Henley suffered a fatal heart attack during a foot pursuit of a suspect on March 19, 2005. He and his partner were on patrol in the Webb Street area when they observed several suspicious men. One of them fled when the officers approached, and Henley gave chase. He collapsed immediately after taking the suspect into custody and died shortly after midnight on March 20. The man he had arrested was wanted in New Jersey on assault and battery charges. He had been a member of the Suffolk Police Department for three years.