Mayor, dignitaries honor ‘h-e-r-o’ police officers

Dozens gather at Richmond County Courthouse for annual observance

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Richmond County Sheriff's Office law enforcement professionals stand at "present arms" in advance of a 21-gun salute.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Richmond County Sheriff’s Office law enforcement professionals stand at “present arms” in advance of a 21-gun salute.

Video 1 – A Police Officer’s Prayer by Deputy Brandon Fuller
Video 2 – 21-gun salute and Taps by Deputy Dabrielle McMillian
Video 3 – The National Anthem performed by April Griffith
Photo gallery – Nearly 300 photos free to download
PeeDeePost.com coverage earlier this week

ROCKINGHAM — Rockingham Mayor Steve  Morris joined area law enforcement officers and dignitaries in an annual observance of National Peace Officers Memorial Day and Week late Friday morning on the front lawn of the Richmond County Courthouse.

Morris, the keynote speaker, spoke almost directly to the dozens of uniformed men and women in attendance. The event, delayed 24 hours by Thursday’s deluge of rain and high winds, was coordinated by Sheriff James Clemmons Jr.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Richmond County Sheriff's Office Lt. J.C. Edwards leads a detail in the presenting of the colors.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Lt. J.C. Edwards leads a detail in the presenting of the colors.

“If you officers ever have to fill out an application or some information form that has a place for your occupation, you should write in that box, ‘h-e-r-o,'” Morris said. “For indeed, each of you are heroes.”

Morris talked about the expectations and that perhaps sometimes residents take their local law enforcement professionals for granted despite the daily risks they face, never knowing if an emergency call to 911 goes from routine to life-threatening.

“When I flip an electric switch, I expect a light to come on or an appliance to start working,” Morris said. “When I turn on a spicket, I expect water to pour out of the faucet, and when I call 911 for law enforcement help, I expect a blue and white or brown-colored car, with blue flashing lights and siren blaring, and a well-trained, well-equipped law enforcement officer to drive up and help me with my legal problems.”

The day of observation comes from a directive from President John F. Kennedy, who designated the calendar week that May 15 falls in as National Police Week. This year, National Police Week is May 11 through May 17.

Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr.

Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr.

First Sergeant Andreas Dietrich, North Carolina Highway Patrol

First Sergeant Andreas Dietrich, North Carolina Highway Patrol

The days are meant to honor “those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others,” according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website. It’s a time for ordinary people to reflect just how dangerous the profession of being a police officer can be — and how, when lost, their surviving loved ones continue to sacrifice.

Hamlet Police Chief Amery Griffin said Monday that his department has one sole casualty. On May 5, 1942, then Chief John B. Fallow “was shot and killed as he and another officer attempted to arrest a man who had murdered his own wife, two sisters-in-law and nephew,” according to the online Officer Down Memorial Page.

Hamlet is not the only area law enforcement agency to suffer a fatal loss. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has endured four line of duty deaths.

With 12 years of service on Jan. 5, 1943, “Sheriff Dewitt Ormsby was killed in an automobile accident while on duty,” according to ODMP.

Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris

Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris

On June 12, 1929, Constable William David Smith “was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a man for possessing illegal whiskey.”

The suspect was captured in Richmond, Va., two weeks later. The suspect was convicted of Smith’s murder and sentenced to death. He was executed in the electric chair on Feb. 13, 1930. Smith was survived by his wife and six children.

On April 29, 1915, jailer Samuel Lou Baucom “was accidentally shot and killed near Hamlet by a posseman as he was assisting with the capture of several prisoners who had escaped from the Cumberland County Jail in Fayetteville.”

Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly

Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly

Baucom had served with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office for four years. He was survived by his wife and four children.

And on Nov. 14, 1892, Deputy Melvin Duncan Livingston “was shot and killed while attempting to serve a warrant on a man for disturbing the peace on election day. As he read the warrant he was shot by the suspect, who then fled the scene.

Present day Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly acknowledged to those in attendance that officers know that sometimes when the call for help is answered, “there’s a possibility we may not return.”

Andreas Dietrich, first sergeant for the local barrack of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, said that 48 officers have been killed in the line of duty in 2014 across the nation and that, over the past 10 years, one officer suffers a line-of-duty death every 58 hours.

Pastor Frank McQuage gave the invocation, Lieut. John Edwards led the posting of the colors, Lieut. Jeff Starling led the Pledge of Allegiance and Brandon Fuller recited A Police Officer’s Prayer. Deputy Dabrielle McMillian performed Taps on the trump and Pastor Mitchell Roller led the group in benediction.

 

 

 

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