OLYMPIA – Washington marked the deadliest year for law enforcement in generations with bag pipes and drums, prayers and speeches, and the posthumous awarding of seven Medals of Honor Friday.
Law enforcement officers from cities and counties around Washington joined state troopers and Royal Canadian Mounties in donning dress uniforms and marching past the state Law Enforcement Memorial on the Capitol Campus overlooking the lake and Budd Inlet to the Puget Sound. Bagpipers played “Amazing Grace,” a bugler played “Taps” and a line of seven state troopers fired three volleys.
As several hundred law enforcement officials and family members watched, Gov. Chris Gregoire and Attorney General Rob McKenna presented medals to the families of seven officers killed in 2009, and three to officers seriously injured.
“Seven line-of-duty deaths made this the deadliest year in more than 70
years,” Gregoire said. Nov. 29, when four Lakewood Police officers were
slain while preparing for their shift, was one of the deadliest in the
nation that year.
She placed the medals around the necks of the spouses of the slain
officers “on behalf of a grateful state…for recognition of the ultimate
State Medals of Honor were awarded posthumously to Lewis County
Sheriff’s Deputy Stephen Michael Gallagher Jr., who died Aug. 18 of
injuries suffered when his patrol car collided with an elk while he was
on his way to backup another officer at a domestic disturbance call;
Seattle Officer Timothy Brenton who was shot to death in his patrol car
in an ambush on Halloween; Lakewood Police Sgt. Mark Renninger and
Officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens II and Gregory Richards, all
killed by parolee Maurice Clemmons on Nov. 29; and Pierce County
Sheriff’s Deputy W. Kent Mundell Jr., who died after being shot by a
suspect in a domestic disturbance in Eatonville on Dec. 21.
Washington hadn’t lost so many law enforcement officers since 1935, when it had eight killed.
Seattle Officer Britt Sweeney, who was wounded in the patrol car with
Brenton, and Pierce County Sgt. Nicholas Hausner, who was wounded in
the domestic disturbance that claimed Mundell, were among those
receiving Medals of Honor for their injuries.
McKenna said what stands out in his mind more than the tragedy is the
courage of the officers to stay on the job and the gratitude of
residents who lined the streets and sidewalks for services honoring the
“Our communities don’t forget, and they don’t intend to let future generations forget,” he said.