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Fifty-three years later, Loren Mitchell is being honored for his distinguished service as the first K-9 handler for the Riverside Police Department.
Mitchell, now 82, will be recognized during a 6:30 p.m. ceremony at Riverside City Hall, where the career lawman will receive a plaque from police Chief Sergio Diaz as well as special acknowledgements from members of the department’s K9 team.
In observance of National Police Week, the Tennessee Highway Patrol today honored State Troopers and other law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty at its annual Memorial Service at the Tennessee Department of Safety Headquarters on Foster Avenue in Nashville.
TDOS Commissioner Dave Mitchell welcomed Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn as the event’s keynote speaker, while Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Mike Walker, members of THP’s Command Staff, current and former State Troopers, and family members of fallen officers were also on hand for the ceremony.
Lakewood, Wash., police Sgt. Mark Renninger didn’t serve in the Lehigh Valley, but local police plan to pay tribute to him today as if he were every bit one of their own.
Bethlehem police and many others spent days planning the massive funeral for Renninger, a Bethlehem native and graduate of Liberty High School, slated for this morning at Lehigh University’s Stabler Arena.
“This could really be something,” Bethlehem Lt. Bob Mitchell said.
Renninger was killed Nov. 29 along with three other Lakewood officers in a coffee shop near Tacoma, Wash. Police believe the officers were targeted by an unstable ex-con, Maurice Clemmons, as they prepared for their upcoming shift.
Clemmons was shot and killed two days later by a Seattle police officer.
The funeral for the four Lakewood officers Wednesday in Tacoma drew 20,000 people. Bethlehem police don’t expect that large of a crowd, but more than 1,000 police officers are expected to pay tribute and join a long procession of cars, motorcycles and horses.
Mitchell said 15 bagpipe and drum corps are coming, including one from the New York Police Department. Mourners will travel from as far away as Lakewood.
Mitchell said an officer from Colorado Springs, Colo., expressed interest and he wouldn’t be shocked to see representatives from departments up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
“You might even find an officer from Canada,” Mitchell said. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Renninger’s body arrived in the city Wednesday night after being flown into Philadelphia International Airport.
The funeral is slated to start at 11:30 a.m. Mitchell said the procession afterward, where officers file past Renninger’s casket, might take an hour or two, delaying the start to the motorcade that will ferry Renninger through the city.
City schools are closing early to accommodate the procession.
The route police plan to take is Mountain Drive north to Hayes Street, then east on Daly Avenue, across the Minsi Trail Bridge, west on East Broad Street, and north on Linden Street to Liberty High School.
Police plan to load Renninger’s casket onto a horse-drawn caisson at Liberty and proceed to Holy Saviour Cemetery. The caisson will be followed by a riderless horse from Bethlehem’s mounted unit.
Mitchell said interested residents and anyone from neighboring communities should congregate along East Broad and Linden streets to view the procession and pay their respects.
By JD Malone
With an assault rifle missing from the Wheeling Police Department, a new policy has been put in place by Chief Robert Matheny.
M-16 assault rifles will now be kept under lock and key. Officers who handle the rifles will now have to put them in their assigned lockers at the end of their shift.
The change is a direct result of the theft of an M-16 assault weapon coming up missing on Oct. 21.
In an emergency situation, officers will have to go back to the station to get the weapons but Lt. Tom Mitchell thinks the benefits outweigh the risks.
There was still no word on a missing pistol stolen from an Ohio County Sheriff’s deputy.
By Melissa Reid
Three police officers stopped an Islip man from jumping off a Southern State Parkway overpass Friday morning, police said.
The man was spotted around 7:09 a.m. standing on an overpass at Commack Road between Spur Drive North and Spur Drive South in Islip, police said. When Third Precinct officers Daniel Chmura and Joseph Passantino responded, the 53-year-old man, whose name was not released, was two-thirds of the way over the barrier, police said.
The two officers engaged the man in conversation before a third officer, Jason Mitchell, pulled him from behind to safety, police said.
The man was taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center for evaluation.
A moving ceremony in Rock Creek Park Monday honored law enforcement officers in Tennessee and across the nation on the second day of National Police Week.
Lewisburg Police Chief Chuck Forbis, assisted by Lieutenant Rebekah Mitchell, arranged the first-ever event in the park to recognize officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
“Hopefully we can make it a tradition,” said Forbis. He said that there used to be a ceremony at the memorial stone on the courthouse lawn, but even that had not been done in recent years.
“This is long overdue,” former county commission chairman Tom Sumners commented after the well-organized event.
The Columbia Police Color Guard presented the American and Tennessee flags, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, the Marshall County High School chorus sang the national anthem, and Rev. Steve Thomas, one of the police chaplains, led the invocation.
Both mayors, Bob Phillips and Joe Boyd Liggett, spoke a few words and read the proclamations they had signed that declared May 10-16 Police Week in Lewisburg and Marshall County.
“You put your life on the line every time you go on duty,” said Phillips, recognizing the danger that police personnel face every day.
“To lose someone affects every family in our community,” added Liggett, acknowledging the fact that most local officers have close ties to the community.
Police chaplain Rev. Tom Dumser told the crowd that, on average, 110-140 policemen per year in America die in the course of doing their duties.
“In the midst of regular activities, they become a sacrifice,” Dumser said. “You deserve the applause of a grateful community,” he told the city and county officers present, concluding, “You do not go into that valley of the shadow of death alone.”
The keynote speaker was Trina Scott, president of the Middle and East Tennessee Concerns of Police Survivors (METNCOPS). Her husband, Patrolman David John Scott of the Clarksville Police Department, died with his rookie partner, Patrolman Yamil Baez-Santiago during a high speed chase of an armed robbery suspect in 2002.
“My husband died doing what he took an oath to do and doing what he loved,” Scott said. She was left to raise their four daughters, then ages 16, 10, 6, and 4, and has been very active in METNCOPS, which Forbis called “a valuable resource.” It provides support, services and training in dealing with line-of-duty deaths for police departments and police families.
“There is no greater way to honor these officers than to tell their stories – how they died and how they lived,” said Scott. In 2008, 134 American officers lost their lives, including Grundy County Deputy Sheriff Anthony Shane Tate and Sumner County Deputy Sheriff Brian DeWayne Denning.
“We will never be ‘normal,’” said Scott, explaining what it is like to be a survivor. “We look at things totally differently. Survivors never have closure. We’ll get through it; we won’t get over it.”
Already in 2009 there are 46 more law enforcement families dealing with what Scott calls “the empty firsts:” family events taking place for the first time without the loved one present.
Marshall County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Billy Lamb told the grim statistics: in America, on average, 164 law enforcement officers are killed every year, and 17,000 are injured.
Caleb Boone, bugler, played “Taps,” and then Pam Wells and Phil Blackwell, relatives of Billy Blackwell, Lewisburg’s officer who was fatally shot while answering a call, brought the wreath forward.
Finally, bagpiper Sarah Keller performed “Amazing Grace” and Rev. Shaun Grant, the third police chaplain, read the “Law Officer’s Prayer.”
The local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police cooked hamburgers and hotdogs, and a generous lunch was enjoyed in the Farmers Market Pavilion.
Sometimes small town police departments have the biggest hearts, especially when it comes to K9s.
Waskom Police Department’s K9 partnerships, Officer Forrest Mitchell with K9 Harley and Officer Dwayne Longmire with K9 Caesar proved just that at the 2009 National Narcotic Detector Dog Association conference.
“For four dogs from Harrison County to place in the top 50 percent is saying great things about Harrison County K9s,” said Mitchell, who added that two of the dogs placed in the top 20 percent.
The conference was April 20 through April 24 in Corpus Christi and included 160 K9 contestants from 28 states.
Waskom’s two K9s and their human handlers worked together to take first in teams. Harley placed third overall, which earned him the Mike Brown Award for Top Malinois. Caesar placed 33 overall.
“That’s what (Mitchell) said before we went, that more than anything he’d like to bring back a trophy for teams,” said Longmire.
Brown was a legendary Malinois trainer, renowned for his deep rapport and communication with his dogs. The comparison to Brown is a deserved honor for Mitchell, Longmire said.
In their first year to compete at the NNDDA’s annual competition, Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Payne and K9 Rusty took 40th place and Deputy Brian Best with K9 Bruce took 72nd overall.
“This was Harrison County’s first year to compete and with young dogs. They will be real contenders next year,” predicted Mitchell.
Officer Mitchell has been at the Waskom Police Department for three years. He owns both dogs and has been working with Harley in narcotics detection for four years.
Mitchell also trained Caesar in narcotics detection while at the Jefferson Police Department, where he worked one year before coming to Waskom.
Harley is a 13-year-old Belgian malinois. This was his third year to compete in the NNDDA narcotics competition placing 104th his first year and 19th last year in Jackson, Miss. “I was thinking about retiring him because of his age, but with the heart he showed in the competition, I’m going to keep him in,” said Mitchell
Officer Longmire, an animal lover like Mitchell, has been working with Caesar for a year since getting to know the 5-year-old German shepherd while renting an apartment near Mitchell.
“This is my first year to compete with Caesar though I have with other dogs while working as a K9 officer in New London,” said Longmire, who has been at WPD since 2007 and has two years of K9 experience from New London Police Department.
Caesar placing 33rd was a major accomplishment for the K9 as he had been three years retired and only trained from January to April before the competition.
“We practice a little bit and he worked vehicles well. Even with the distractions of the highway, he went back to work like he had last stepped out of the car yesterday,” said Longmire.
Both men took the time to honor their own dog training mentors. Longmire credited his K9 knowledge to David Dockins and Scott McCally who taught him how to train and bond.
“Placing so well also says great things about Forrest and his work with in Jefferson for Caesar to place so well,” said Longmire.
Mitchell credited Karen Bush and Norm Gardener of Blanchard, La., who showed him how to train dogs and also gave Harley to him four years ago.
“Harley’s success has progressed over the years and he has matured a lot in the competitions,” said Mitchell. “Having a good dog in your department and trusting him is a big benefit to the department.”
Anyone who would like to see Mitchell, Longmire, Harley and Caesar in action can attend a K9 demonstration during a Drug Awareness Program at 3:30 p.m. on May 28 at New Hope Apartments in Waskom.
About 300 dogs and their handlers attended the 2009 NNDDA Conference though not all competed in the narcotics competition. Next year’s competition will be in Bossier City, La. For more information about the NNDDA visit http://www.nndda.org.
Two Fort Myers Police Department officers and their K9 partners earned top honors last week in the Iron Dog Competition at the National Police Canine Association’s 2nd Annual Police Service Dog/Handler Survival Seminar in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Officer Shawn Nenadal and K9 Chase took first place and Officer Walter Mitchell and K9 Dagger came in second. The competition included an obstacle course of real life scenarios that tested agility, officer safety skills, apprehension, physical fitness and shooting accuracy.
The FMPD has six police officers with K9 partners. The dogs assist with searching buildings, tracking criminals and drug detection, and provide officers with non-lethal assistance in the prevention and detection of crime.
Two Anderson Police officers were awarded their service weapons last week after they served a combined 63 years on the force.
Layton Creamer retired as a lieutenant after 36 years of service, serving from 1972 to 2008.
Terry Mitchell also retired as a lieutenant serving 27 years from 1981 to 2008. Anderson Police Chief Martin Brown awarded both men their service weapons as a reward for their service.
“We would like to thank these two fine gentlemen and outstanding officers for their years of dedicated service to the citizens of the city of Anderson,” a police department news release said.
Creamer, who actually worked his last day at the department in January 2008, was an investigator for the department when he retired. Mitchell was a supervisor for one of the department’s patrol shifts.
Illinois State Police say the high-speed crash of a trooper’s cruiser that killed two Collinsville sisters last year has prompted dramatic policy changes.
State Police Director Larry Trent announced Friday troopers must follow a four-tiered response system that limits how fast they can drive.
Under the first level, called a “code one,” troopers are limited to following traffic laws. Officers operating under codes two and three can drive faster than the speed limit, but must call a supervisor before exceeding 20 miles over the speed limit.
And only supervisors can issue a “code red,” directing troopers to drive as fast as necessary, with no limit, State Police Lt. Scott Compton said. Those cases will later be reviewed by a committee, he said.
The agency said Illinois is only the second state in the nation to restrict trooper speeds.
Troopers also will be required to use a handsfree device with cell phones. And state police policy now specifies that they cannot turn in-car video cameras off while responding to emergency calls.
The changes are a direct result of a car crash on Interstate 64 last November, Trent said. Trooper Matt Mitchell lost control of his cruiser while driving 126 mph, crossing the median and hitting head on a car carrying 18-year-old Jessica Uhl and her 13-year-old sister Kelli.
“I am convinced that emergency response driving, whether it is police, fire, or ambulance, must change,” Trent said. “The long-standing culture of response at all costs is no longer acceptable within the Illinois State Police.”
Before the public announcement Friday, Trent told the Uhls’ mother, Kim Dorsey, of the changes during a meeting with her lawyer, Thomas Q. Keefe.
“If these new policies save lives, then Jessica and Kelli died so that lives could saved,” Dorsey said. “Well, that’s a great tribute to their lives.”
Dorsey has filed a $24 million lawsuit against the state and state police in the Illinois Court of Claims.
A second lawsuit was filed last week against Mitchell by a Fayetteville couple who say they suffered leg injuries in the multiple pileup caused by the trooper’s crash with the Uhls’ car.
State police have relieved 29-year-old Mitchell of duty and he isn’t receiving worker’s compensation. He’s scheduled to stand trial early next year on two charges of reckless homicide in St. Clair County Circuit Court. He has pleaded not guilty.