Saluting those who have fallen
MIDDLETOWN – The shadow of recent violence that has taken the lives of police and civilians hung over law enforcement officials who gathered Wednesday at the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy to honor those died doing their duty.
The 12th annual memorial service was focused as always on the deaths of eight area law enforcement officers over a period going back to the 1930s. They are: Lt. William Patrick Farrell of the Front Royal Police Department; Trooper H. Lee Henderson of the Virginia State Police; Trooper Kevin Carder Manion, of the Virginia State Police; Sheriff James W. Newcome, of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office; Sheriff Luther Pannett of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office; Sgt. Dennis M. Smedley of the Front Royal Police Department; Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook of the Winchester Police Department; and Trooper II Daniel Lee Williams of the Virginia State Police.
Mike Harvey, executive director of the academy, reminded the audience that the loss of life is felt most keenly by the officers’ family members, several of whom attended the ceremony.
“To our family members, we will mourn with you and grieve a loss that we know will never be truly healed,” Harvey said.
Winchester Police Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher said the police face “one of the most challenging times in my long, long, long career.”
Sanzenbacher added: “I believe the situations in Ferguson, North Charleston, and Baltimore make it increasingly important for us to gather to remember those of us who gave their last full measure to protect our communities and to protect them despite race, despite creed, despite color and to remind those of us left behind that we truly are the good guys.”
State Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville, spoke after Sanzenbacher about 494 law enforcement officers who sacrificed their lives protecting Virginia residents throughout the state’s history.
“It is unfortunate it takes a day like today to stop and reflect on what those sacrifices really mean,” Vogel said.
Vogel spoke of the large number of bills pertaining to law enforcement that are introduced in the General Assembly, many of which funnel through the Courts of Justice Committee on which she serves.
Vogel said she is especially pleased to serve on the Finance Committee’s subcommittee on public safety where she can advocate for money to fund the best technology and equipment and increased pay “commensurate with the duties these men and women undertake.”
Vogel spoke of a survey that found about half of all law enforcement officers have been assaulted while on duty. Still, they did not consider themselves crime victims. She called the survey results “shocking” and a message that should be heeded by state lawmakers.
“We will certainly do everything in our power,” Vogel said, “to combat what the culture has sort of delivered to us this year and in recent years and has changed the dialogue and made it so important to focus on protecting and defending those men and women who serve in such important positions.”
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org