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Two state troopers who rushed to save a driver having a heart attack and a young girl who called 911after watching an RV hit a pedestrian are among those recognized by the State Patrol at its annual awards presentation.
Each year, the Patrol honors citizens, members of other law enforcement agencies, troopers and State Patrol employees who performed life-saving acts or excelled in a crisis or efforts to ensure safer Minnesota roads.
The State Patrol honors Trooper Ron Richards as the 2010 Trooper of the Year. The almost 17 year State Patrol veteran received this honor for his hard work ethic and his commitment to keeping Minnesotans safe. Richards serves in the U.S. Army (both active and reserve) and is a volunteer firefighter and EMT for the Jackson Fire Department.
Forza Coffee Shop, once a pitstop near the highway, it is now a symbol of community and honor.
“It was the community that wanted us to focus on that and it was really a lot of their ideas too,” says owner Brad Carpenter in reference to the new memorial outside of the shop.
Carpenter says they wanted a place to honor the Lakewood four. Officer Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens, Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officer Greg Richards were gunned down Nov. 29, 2009 at the coffee shop in Parkland. It’s now a place to reflect.
And for Centralia resident Judith Foy, it’s a place to mourn.
“Whenever we’re up here we want to go by here and say a blessing,” she said.
When the Lakewood Police Department opened its new headquarters last year, there was no need for a memorial paying tribute to officers killed while patrolling the city’s streets.
Then, Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens and Greg Richards were gunned down Nov. 29 at a Parkland coffee shop while preparing for their Sunday shifts.
Now, the Lakewood community will have two memorials honoring the officers.
Crews started working earlier this month on a black granite wall and plaza outside the Police Department’s headquarters at 9401 Lakewood Drive S.W. It will honor the four fallen officers and those who might die in the future while on duty in Lakewood.
Less than three miles away, another monument – featuring a retaining wall, sculpture and four flag poles – is being erected at 116th Street South and Steele Street South, just steps from the Forza coffee shop where the four officers were killed last year.
Two vital members of the Hemet Police Department K-9 Program have a new leash on taking a bite out of crime and will be patrolling the streets in brand new body armor vests.
K-9 officer partners, Fritts and Rosco, will don the knife- and bullet-proof vests donated by Vest N’ P.D.P., a New Mexico-based nonprofit.
“Without a doubt, our K-9 partners obediently risk their lives every day to keep us out of harm’s way,” said Lt. Mark Richards, the departments K-9 coordinator. “The least we can do is try to protect them with the latest and best technology offered.”
Four officers who were shot and killed by a gunman last November were given the state’s Law Enforcement Medal of Honor Friday at a ceremony honoring more than a dozen officers.
Lakewood police Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards and Ronald Owens were among the seven officers who received medals for posthumous service. Seven other officers received medals for serious injury or meritorious conduct.
Gov. Chris Gregoire put a wreath at the Law Enforcement Memorial on the Capitol Campus, and along with Attorney General Rob McKenna, presented the posthumous and other medals and portraits of all of the officers Friday afternoon.
“All of the men and women we honor, did their duty,” Gregoire said. “They signed up, they put on their badge, they answered when people were in need. Their courage was evident every time they put on their uniform.”
The task for Lakewood police sounds simple enough: Continue to protect the second-largest city in Pierce County as they have since the department was founded five years ago.
But much attention since Nov. 29 has focused on grieving and remembering four officers slain at a Parkland coffee shop: Sgt. Mark Renninger, and officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens and Greg Richards.
The public grief culminated a week ago with a memorial service at the Tacoma Dome that was larger and as emotional as any ever seen in Washington.
Now, one practical matter Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar must address is how and when to fill the jobs held by the officers who were gunned down by Maurice Clemmons.
“We have four open positions that we’re going to need to fill,” Farrar said Thursday in his office, where four black ribbons used in the officers’ memorial ceremony hung on a wall. “We’re going to look at our hiring lists and see who’s qualified for the job.”
Most likely, he said, the department will begin the search early next year.
Getting an officer on the street takes more than making a job offer. Even if the department fills the vacant positions internally, four other officers will have to be replaced. The new recruits most likely will attend training for about a year, during which the city will pay their wages.
“We are now just starting to think about that,” said assistant chief Mike Zaro.
Before the shootings, Lakewood had 103 commissioned police officers with no vacancies, Farrar said. It has backfilled the shifts that the four officers worked by paying overtime. Outside police agencies also donated services, including traffic control at the police station memorial and patrolling the streets of Lakewood during the Dec. 8 ceremony. But they have since returned to their own communities.
Lakewood will continue paying overtime next year, although officials said the extra time probably won’t push the Police Department beyond its proposed budget. Farrar said he’s also considering shifting officers – even neighborhood cops who are assigned to one of six areas throughout the city – to help fill occasional gaps on general patrol.
Farrar said he hasn’t heard of any of the remaining 99 officers having to take leave to deal with their grief. In fact, on the day the four were killed, off-duty officers checked into headquarters ready to cover for their fallen comrades.
The Police Department offers counseling and other help if officers need to talk to someone about the shootings.
Next year’s Lakewood city budget calls for staffing 103 officers. That won’t change.
“For us not to fill the police positions would be equivalent to cutting the police budget,” Lakewood City Manager Andrew Neiditz said. “We are not going to do that.”
Lakewood’s public safety budget is $19.7 million next year, roughly half of the city’s total $37.1 million spending plan. About $14 million pays for police salaries and benefits. That’s a little more than what the Lakewood City Council approved in police salaries and personnel in the 2009 budget.
Meanwhile, other police agencies are having to trim staff and expenses. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department will lose 15 deputies next year.
Neiditz and other city leaders say they haven’t set a timeline for Farrar to fill the four openings.
“The Lakewood City Council is going to provide the budget to the citizens that we said we were going to provide,” Mayor Doug Richardson said.
Farrar stressed at the Tacoma Dome memorial that his officers will never forget their co-workers and friends. As of Monday, the department hadn’t erased the white duty board from the four officers’ last shift. Their pictures are framed in the lobby area. The police union continues to raise money for the families. Officers still wear black bars of mourning across their badges.
Despite their hurt, Lakewood police are resolved to do their jobs.
Sgt. Mark Eakes said the saddest episode in the department’s young history has left officers with a lot of emotions. Still, the outpouring of support has helped them endure the tragedy and do their jobs.
“There are still people hurting other people out there, and we still have got to protect them,” he said.
The department is already showing signs of a return to normalcy. In the lobby, a Christmas tree welcomes visitors.
Outside at a makeshift memorial – where thousands of people visited in the days after the shootings – the tribute no longer stretches around the corner of the police station.
Workers have removed flowers and plants that couldn’t survive freezing temperatures. They also took cards and other signs of support to give to the families of Renninger, Griswold, Owens and Richards. All that was left Monday were memorial wreaths, small American flags and a few other items.
Lakewood plans to erect a permanent memorial, already getting commitments from architectural and engineering firms to volunteer their services.
When asked what assurance he’d give Lakewood residents in light of the tragedy, Farrar said his officers are more committed than ever to protect and serve.
“Just look around,” Farrar said. “You’ll see the Lakewood cars out and about.
“They’re determined to take care of the citizens of Lakewood.”
By Brent Champaco
Thousands participated Tuesday in a procession to the memorial for four murdered Washington state police officers, with initial estimates putting the crowd of mourners as large as 20,000.
Pierce County officials said 2,000 police and fire vehicles from more than 150 agencies joined the procession to the service at the Tacoma Dome for the victims of a shooting late last month a coffee shop.
The shooter, Maurice Clemmons — who gunned down Mark Renninger, 39, Ronald Owens, 37, Tina Griswold, 40, and Greg Richards, 42 — was killed Dec. 2 in a shootout with a Seattle police officer after a two-day manhunt.
Vehicles left McChord Air Force Base at 10 a.m. Tuesday on a route past the Lakewood Police Department and were joined by Lakewood police and families of the murdered Lakewood officers.
Several candlelight vigils have been held for the officers since the shooting, but Tuesday’s memorial service and procession is believed to be the largest in state history.
The three-hour procession route took participants under a large American flag hanging from arching fire truck ladders, and it was joined by local law enforcement in Washington state, along with those traveling from as far away as New York, Chicago, and Boston.
The officers’ family and friends served as pallbearers, carrying the the caskets of Renninger, Owens, Griswold and Richards into the Tacoma Dome.
A ceremonial honor guard opened the ceremony, and every officer in the arena stood at attention and saluted as the families of the four officers and members of the Lakeland Police Department were led to their seats.
“They were good people, and they were great cops,” Lakewood Police Chief Brett Farrar said at the service. “And they will be truly missed.”
In addition to eulogies from family, friends and public officials, mourners watched a video tribute to the officers.
Cpl. Jack Hundial, of Surrey, British Columbia, was one of 1,000 Royal Canadian Mounted Police in attendance. He said he and his colleagues wanted to show their support because “it could have been any of us.”
“I think about their families,” he said. “I don’t think you ever find true closure for something this tragic.”
Flags at all state facilities were lowered to half-staff Tuesday, on orders from Gov. Chris Gregoire, who spoke at the service.
Additional space for the public to view telecasts of the service was made available at the University of Washington Tacoma, Pacific Lutheran University and the Christian Faith Center in Federal Way.
Clemmons allegedly went to the coffee house on the morning of Nov. 29 and opened fire on the Lakewood officers as they caught up on paperwork at the beginning of their shifts. He fled but was wounded by one of the dying victims who shot him in the stomach.
Four people have been charged with helping Clemmons, 37, avoid capture, and two more indictments are expected.
Police allege the four suspects gave first-aid to Clemmons, helped him change clothes and made arrangements to get him to other locations.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said Thursday he’s willing to look at any recommended changes in how his state sends parolees to Washington state after Clemmons, an Arkansas parolee, shot the Lakewood officers.
Beebe told reporters he spoke for about half an hour with Gregoire and that he’s confident Arkansas correction officials properly handled Clemmons’ case after he was paroled.
At issue is a warrant that Arkansas officials issued for Clemmons. Arkansas corrections officials say the warrant should have been enough to keep Clemmons in jail on a charge in Pierce County, Wash. But Washington officials say it wasn’t handled properly in Arkansas.
Join your fellow Kent residents for a candlelight vigil 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3, to acknowledge the Lakewood Police officers killed in the line of duty Nov. 29, as well as supporting Kent’s own officers.
The vigil has been organized by the North Park Neighborhood Council, and takes place between City Hall and the Police Department.
Officer Greg Richards, one of the four officers killed Nov. 29 while at a Parkland coffee shop, served with the Kent Police Department from September 2001 until October 2004, before hiring on with the Lakewood Police Department.
The other officers are Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owen, 37, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39.
Maurice Clemmons, 37, the man believed to have been the gunman, was shot and killed early Tuesday morning in Seattle, following a massive manhunt that stretched from Pierce County up to Seattle.
He is accused of walking into the coffee shop where the four officers were sitting and opening fire at them.
More than 90,000 people posted messages of condolence on a Facebook page honoring four slain Lakewood police officers in the day after their deaths. Several thousand people are expected to line the streets Wednesday night near the Lakewood Police Department as part of a candlelight vigil.
Flags throughout the region are flying at half-staff, and public officials from across the state have issued expressions of sympathy.
The unprecedented assassination of the officers — just a month after a Seattle police officer was gunned down as he sat in his squad car — has prompted an outpouring of shock, grief and outrage from people throughout the region and around the world.
“Those officers represent us,” said Dean Curry, pastor of the Life Center Assembly of God Church in Tacoma, which is partnering with the Lakewood YMCA for Wednesday’s vigil. “When we see them we know they are standing between us and harm. When they are attacked, we feel it’s an attack upon ourselves.”
The circumstances of the shootings, four officers quietly starting their Sunday in a coffee shop, seemed to touch many of those sharing their reactions online.
“You put your lives on the line for us every single day. You wear those uniforms for our safety and no other reason,” wrote Darla Langdon.
Jean Madden of Wisconsin expressed outrage that the suspected gunman had been released from prison in one state and jail in another despite a long criminal record, including several felonies.
“Why in thunder was he let out of prison?” Madden wrote.
The Facebook page was created by an Edmonds high-school student who is part of the close-knit family of law enforcement. Jacob Kimerer, 17, is himself a Police Explorer who volunteers with the Edmonds Police Department and plans a career as an officer.
His uncle, Clark Kimerer, is deputy chief of the Seattle Police Department. His father, Scott Kimerer, is chief of the Burien Police Department.
Jacob’s father said his son understands the dangers of being a police officer: “He’s already been to four officer funerals, and he’s just 17 years old.”
Jacob Kimerer said he was moved to create the Facebook page after seeing a similar page honoring Timothy Brenton, the Seattle police officer who was slain Halloween night.
Still, he said, he was unprepared for the outpouring of sympathy. As many as 15 posts per minute were being logged on the site Monday.
People from as far away as France and Mexico left comments. In the United States, posts came from Wisconsin, Michigan, Utah and California amid thousands from Washington state.
A constant stream of calls and visitors came into the city of Lakewood and its Police Department Monday. Mourners left cards and flowers outside the Police Department.
Jeff Brewster, Lakewood’s communications director, said he’d received calls from a New York police officer and a Long Island officer who both want to fly out to attend the memorial service on their own time.
The Lakewood Police Department was formed in 2004, and the four slain officers had been recruited from across the region, Brewster said. The department grew over the past five years from 87 to more than 100.
“Before the shooting, we had 103 officers,” he said. “Now it’s 99.”
On Monday, Lisa Brenton, widow of Officer Timothy Brenton, expressed her condolences to the surviving families.
Calling the aftermath of a shooting death a “time of unbearable grief,” Brenton issued a statement that said in part, “Our hearts ache for the families of Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officer Tina Griswold, Officer Ronald Owens and Officer Gregory Richards. … Their families are painfully aware of the risks that are inherent in their loved ones’ chosen profession.”
By Lynn Thompson
Here is the Facebook page mentioned in the article
The man suspected of gunning down four police officers in a suburban coffee shop was shot and killed by a lone patrolman investigating a stolen car early Tuesday. Four people were arrested for allegedly helping the suspect elude authorities during a massive two-day manhunt.
Maurice Clemmons was carrying a handgun he took from one of the dead officers when a Seattle policeman recognized him near a stolen car in a working-class south Seattle neighborhood about 2:45 a.m., Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel said.
The vehicle was running but unoccupied when the officer pulled up, radioed in the license plate number and realized the car was stolen, Pugel said.
The officer saw something moving, got out of his car, saw Clemmons and ordered him to show his hands and stop.
“He wouldn’t stop,” Pugel said. “The officer fired several rounds.”
Clemmons also had sustained a serious gunshot wound from one of the four officers killed in the coffee-shop shooting.
Police planned to arrest more people who helped Clemmons.
“We expect to have maybe six or seven people in custody by the day’s end,” said Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County sheriff. “Some are friends, some are acquaintances, some are partners in crime, some are relatives. Now they’re all partners in crime.”
Three people were booked into the Pierce County Jail on Monday and early Tuesday for investigation of rendering criminal assistance on four counts of first-degree murder. They are Ricky Hinton, Eddie Lee Davis and Douglas Edward Davis. Troyer said a getaway driver also was arrested. That person’s identity wasn’t immediately known.
On Monday, officers detained a sister of Clemmons who they think treated the suspect’s gunshot wound.
“We believe she drove him up to Seattle and bandaged him up,” Troyer said.
Authorities say Clemmons, 37, singled out the Lakewood officers and spared employees and other customers at the coffee shop Sunday morning in Parkland, a Tacoma suburb about 35 miles south of Seattle. He then fled, but not before one of the dying officers apparently shot him in the torso.
“I’m surprised that he managed to get away,” Troyer said. “The officer did a good job in Lakewood.”
Killed were Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, and Officers Ronald Owens, 37, Tina Griswold, 40, and Greg Richards, 42.
The officer who shot Clemmons was not injured, Pugel said.
Police said they aren’t sure what prompted Clemmons to shoot the four officers, who were in uniform and working on paperwork at the coffee shop just two blocks outside their jurisdiction.
“The only motive that we have is he decided he was going to go kill police officers,” Troyer said. He said Clemmons talked the night before the shooting about killing a group of cops and watching the news.
Police believe Clemmons chose the coffee shop because it was frequented by police officers from various agencies.
“We do not believe that the Lakewood officers were actually targeted other than that they were police officers in that location at the time where he knew he could find police officers.”
Police surrounded a house in a Seattle neighborhood late Sunday following a tip Clemmons had been dropped off there. After an all-night siege, a SWAT team entered the home and found it empty. But police said Clemmons had been there.
Police frantically chased leads on Monday, searching multiple spots in the Seattle and Tacoma area and at one point cordoning off a park where people thought they saw Clemmons. They found a handgun along with a pickup truck belonging to the suspect with blood stains inside, and alerted hospitals to be on the lookout for a man seeking treatment for gunshot wounds.
Authorities in two states were criticized amid revelations that Clemmons was allowed to walk the streets despite a teenage crime spree in Arkansas that landed him an 108-year prison sentence. He was released early after then-Gov. Mike Huckabee commuted his sentence.
Huckabee cited Clemmons’ youth in granting the request. But Clemmons quickly reverted to his criminal past, violated his parole and was returned to prison. He was released again in 2004.
“This guy should have never been on the street,” said Brian D. Wurts, president of the police union in Lakewood. “Our elected officials need to find out why these people are out.”
Huckabee said on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” Monday night that Clemmons was allowed back on the street because prosecutors failed to file paperwork in time.
Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley, whose office opposed Clemmons’ parole in 2000 and 2004, said Huckabee’s comments were “red herrings.”
“My word to Mr. Huckabee is man up and own what you did,” Jegley said.
Clemmons was charged in Washington state earlier this year with assaulting a police officer and raping a child, and investigators in the sex case said he was motivated by visions that he was Jesus Christ and that the world was on the verge of the apocalypse.
A psychological evaluation conducted in October found he was a risk to public safety, but not a bad enough risk to justify committing him, The News Tribune of Tacoma reported.
The confidential report acquired by the newspaper was ordered by a Pierce County Superior Court judge to determine whether Clemmons was competent to stand trial on the rape and assault charges. He was found competent and was released from jail after posting bail with the assistance of Jail Sucks Bail Bonds.
At the time of his arrest, he allegedly made “religiously-themed comments, told the officer President Obama and Lebron James are his brothers, Oprah (Winfrey) is his sister and referred to himself as ‘the beast,’” according to the evaluation.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Manuel Valdes in Seattle, Rachel La Corte in Tacoma, George Tibbits in Seattle, Andrew DeMillo and Jill Zeman Bleed in Little Rock, Ark., and photographers Elaine Thompson in Seattle and Ted S. Warren in Parkland, Wash.
By Gene Johnson