Families, police pay respects to fallen officers

Randolph Macon Academy cadet Mike Wang, 17, plays "Taps" during the service Wednesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

MIDDLETOWN — Dozens of area police officers and family members gathered on a humid Wednesday morning at the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy to remember local officers who lost their lives.

In recognition of National Police Week, and Monday being National Peace Officers Memorial Day, police around the country take the time to honor fallen officers. This year was the area’s 14th Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service, and those in attendance were reverent in paying their respects to the officers lost over the years.

State Del. Michael J. Webert, R-Marshall, spoke at the memorial service about how being an officer is a “daunting task,” and noted that police are too often “over-criticized and under-appreciated.”

“We’ve recently seen a shift in public attitudes toward police,” Webert said during the ceremony. “It is an attitude that expects perfection in an imperfect world… While we all may be imperfect, that should not diminish the respect we should show our police officers.”

Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron, one of many law enforcement officials at Wednesday’s memorial, said that it is always important to remember those who gave their lives in public service.

Frederick County Sheriff's Office Deputy Gerald Umbel, left, and Winchester Police Lt. Mark Lahman, right, carry the memorial wreath as the processional begins Wednesday morning during the Law Enforcement Memorial Service held at the Rappahannock Criminal Justice Training Academy in Middletown. Rich Cooley/Daily

“We try to honor all our fallen officers and deputies and troopers and so on, and it’s something that just you have to take the time on to memorialize and pay that tribute to the families because they’ve given the ultimate sacrifice as well,” McEathron said. “It’s a small thing that we can do, but it’s something you’re honored to be able to do.”

Families and members of the law enforcement community paid their respects to Lt. William Patrick Ferrell and Sgt. Dennis M. Smedley of the Front Royal Police Department, Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook of the Winchester Police Department, Sheriffs Luther Pannett and James W. Newcome of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, and Virginia State Troopers H. Lee Henderson and Kevin Carder Manion.

Trooper II Daniel Lee Williams, who lost his life in a car accident during a pursuit in 1999, was also honored at the memorial service. His parents, Shirley and Richard Williams, have attended the law enforcement memorial service every year, and said they are always happy with how their son has been honored each time.

“They continue to remember the fallen — not just Danny, but the other fallen officers; we greatly appreciate it,” Richard Williams said. “I appreciate each and every one that does serve, not only the commonwealth but wherever in the United States.”

Contact staff writer Briahnna Brown at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or bbrown@nvdaily.com