MIDDLETOWN – Another portrait of an area police officer who died in the line of duty was unveiled Wednesday during the Skyline Regional Criminal Justice Academy’s annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service.
The newest portrait displayed a smiling image of Winchester Police Department officer Hunter Edwards, who died in a crash at age 30 in November while responding to a call.
Tommie Bower, Skyline Regional Criminal Justice Academy’s executive director, said Edwards — who graduated from the academy in 2014 — “certainly left a mark on all of us” through “his jovial personality” and “always smiling face.
“I can say from all of us that it was a privilege and honor to train him and watch his success,” she said.
Bower said that this week — National Police Week — is about paying “homage to our fallen brothers and sisters” who gave their lives to uphold “the thin blue line” that “keeps our community safe and society civilized.”
The guest speaker at the memorial, Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety and homeland security, said when citizens call for help, officers run toward trouble — like Edwards the night he died — instead of away.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the legacy officer Edwards and his fellow fallen officers have left behind. Though their dedicated service ended prematurely and tragically, their memories live on in the work of their brothers and sisters in law enforcement,” he said.
While Edwards was the most recent regional officer to die, Moran noted that there are 22,000 officers in Virginia with “dedication and courage” who are willing to pay the “ultimate sacrifice” so citizens “can enjoy the peace.”
The other regional officers honored who made that sacrifice were:
• Frederick County Sheriff Luther Pannett, who died on Dec. 21, 1932.
• Frederick County Sheriff James W. Newcome, who died Feb. 13, 1938.
• Front Royal Police Department Sgt. Dennis M. Smedley, who died Sept. 20, 1983.
• Virginia State Police Trooper Harry Lee Henderson, who died March 17, 1987.
• Front Royal Police Department Lt. William Patrick Farrell, who died July 24, 1991.
• Winchester Police Department Sgt. Ricky L Timbrook, who died Oct. 30, 1999.
• Virginia State Police Trooper Daniel Lee Williams, who died Dec. 12, 1999.
• Virginia State Police Trooper Kevin Carder Manion, who died Feb. 18, 2006.
Moran said Edwards’ name will be etched alongside the above-listed officers on the public safety memorial in Richmond, which is a “constant” and “appropriate” reminder of the officers who sacrifice their lives. He added that it was an honor to participate in Wednesday’s ceremony and recognize the officers’ dedication, courage and their “ultimate sacrifice.”
He noted that the ceremony took place on May 15, a day declared National Peace Officers Memorial Day by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
“I love that name, ‘peace.’ I don’t think he was actually referring to our law enforcement because there is nothing peaceful about your jobs,” he said.
Instead, Moran said officers provide a peaceful environment so citizens can “sleep peacefully at night and enjoy our communities by day.”
“Although no words or ceremony can erase the pain we feel for the loss of these fine officers, we can find peace in the knowledge that they helped to make this world a more just and safe place,” he said.