Local fallen officers honored
MIDDLETOWN – The 13th annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service held Wednesday at the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy was more than just another guest speaker appearance for Del. Chris Collins, R-Winchester.
Collins, a former Frederick County deputy turned defense attorney, said he knew three of the eight men honored during the ceremony, which was moved indoors because of wet weather.
Collins spoke to an audience of local law enforcement officials and family members of area law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. He praised those he knew – Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook of the Winchester police and trooper Kevin Carder Manion and trooper II Daniel Lee Williams, both of the Virginia State Police – for their character traits.
“Each and every one of us in here is here because we believe in our community,” Collins said, adding that they chose to join the ranks for law enforcement “not because we want to become a millionaire. It’s because we want to make this a better community.”
The list of fallen also included Lt. William Patrick Farrell of the Front Royal Police Department; state police trooper H. Lee Henderson; Sheriff James W. Newcome of Frederick County; Sheriff Luther Pannett of Frederick County; and Front Royal Sgt. Dennis M. Smedley.
Family members of the fallen placed flags at a memorial wreath in the front of the room as the ceremony neared its end.
Retired Front Royal Chief Richard Furr said in an interview that the moment he learned Smedley had been shot is firmly imprinted on his memory. Smedley was gunned down in an ambush as he left for work on Sept. 20, 1983.
“I was in my station,” Furr recalled. “That’s when all the telephone lines lit up, and the dispatcher called into the patrol room, ‘Officer has been shot.'”
Smedley’s killing remains unsolved. Police arrested two men at different times as suspects in the killing. Both were acquitted at trials, one in 1983 and the other in 1991.
Furr said the case, which was turned over to the state police years ago, was still haunting Front Royal police at the time of his retirement in 2012.
“When I retired, that was still in the back of our minds that we would like to solve that case,” Furr said, “but unfortunately we weren’t able to develop any new information.”
Collins said that the losses of Timbrook, Manion and Williams still weigh heavily on him. Timbrook was his instructor at the academy.
“I learned a lot from him, and I carry his memory with me everyday,” Collins said of Timbrook.
The Officer Down Memorial Page operated by a non-profit organization of the same name, lists 35 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty so far this year, a 17-percent drop from the same time last year. The 17 deaths recorded from gunfire mark a 70-percent increase from those recorded through the same period in 2015.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org