‘Brothers of the Badge’Published 9:44am Tuesday, May 20, 2014
JACKSON – They proudly accept the oath to “protect and serve.” Tragically, some surrender their lives in the performance of that duty.
Since 1962, those within the law enforcement community from coast to coast pause in mid-May to reflect on the lives of their fellow comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice while upholding their oath, and be mindful that, in the words of President Bill Clinton in 1994 – “These observances also remind us of the ongoing need to be vigilant against all forms of crime, especially to acts of extreme violence and terrorism.”
On Friday in downtown Jackson, law enforcement officers representing several different agencies gathered around a granite marker erected in memory of three Northampton County officers killed in the line of duty since 1980.
The Northampton County Sheriff’s Office and Northampton County Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 47, co-hosted the event – the Twin County Law Enforcement Memorial Service. Twelve officers from Halifax County who died while carrying out their oath were also memorialized.
“When you see a brother, a fellow law enforcement officer, regardless of where he lives or where he works, as he lies motionless on the ground, that is sight and feeling you will always remember and a memory you’ll take to your grave,” said Northampton County Sheriff Jack Smith, the event’s keynote speaker. “It’s heartbreaking when you see a fellow officer that has given all, marking the end of their tour of duty.”
Smith also praised the families of law enforcement officers.
“They need to be honored and thanked for the many days and nights they spend at home while their spouse, or father, mother, son or daughter, brother or sister go out to work,” he noted. “Think about all the family activities they miss…church, family gatherings, trips, to name a few.”
Smith said the first law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty came in 1791. Since that time, around 21,000 have followed in paying the ultimate sacrifice while millions of others have been injured.
In North Carolina, 531 officers have been killed over the years. Of that number, 306 were killed by gunfire from assailants.
“As law enforcement officers, we all know that when we leave home in the morning for our tour of duty, we may not come home that night,” Smith noted. “So we need to take every opportunity we can to let our law enforcement officers know that we appreciate the job they do in their community.
“There are many times that our officers are ridiculed, cursed out, spit on, jumped on, slapped, stabbed and shot, but yet they still continue to serve,” Smith added. “And we all know it’s not for the pay. I thank you for what you have done and continue to do each and every day.”
Jackson Police Chief John Young offered the opening invocation.
“We’re thankful for the opportunity to remember our brothers and sisters in law enforcement who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their citizens. We never need to forget those who gave all, their last full measure in the line of duty, all the while performing said duties so we may enjoy our rights and freedoms. Bless those who have fallen, giving them peace in the knowledge that they will never be forgotten, and embrace those who still serve, those who still carry out their promise to serve, protect and defend all who come under their watch and care,” Young said.
“Men and women who hear and answer the call of duty to join the ranks of law enforcement offices in this country do so with the knowledge there comes some great personal sacrifice,” said Roanoke Rapids Police Department Sgt. Richard White. “It is a decision made because they know they need to stand united, to defend our family, friends and neighbors against the ever-present criminal element.
“We live in the greatest nation in the world, one based on freedom and justice for every person,” White continued. “Law enforcement officers are the first line of defense protecting the American way of life. Every officer is charged with protecting your constitutional rights. This duty is a great responsibility and one that is not to be taken lightly. Many of our brothers and sisters in law enforcement gave the ultimate sacrifice. Today we come together to honor the men and women of Northampton and Halifax counties that heard that call and answered it with honor, laying down their lives to protect all of us so we can continue to live free and safe in our homes and communities.”
Colonel W.P. (Wes) Terry Jr., a retired law enforcement officer and current president of Lodge 47, said those wearing the badge of their respective organization serve an honorable profession.
“The good Lord tells us, blessed are the peacemakers, but not everyone wants us to bring peace,” Terry noted. “Today, across America, some 900,000 law enforcement officers put their lives and safety on the line each and every day. They serve with valor and distinction, and with great success. Violence and property crime today are at an all-time low, thanks in large to the measure of professionalism of the men and women who serve law enforcement.”
However, that protection comes with a price. Terry stated that each year there are approximately 60,000 assaults on law enforcement officers nationwide. Of those, some 16,000 result in serious injury.
“Sadly, over the last decade, we have an average of 160 officers a year who are killed in the line of duty,” Terry said, adding that the fatality rate is the highest nationally in the southern states.
Historically, over 20,000 officers have been killed across the United States. Terry noted that as of May 13, 2014, law enforcement fatalities have increased by 26 percent.
“Annually we come together in this solemn ceremony of honor, remembering our fallen brothers of the badge,” Terry remarked.
He read the names of three Northampton County officers that “laid their ultimate gift on the altar of duty, honor and dedication”:
Officer Lloyd Mayse, North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, fatally wounded by poachers on Nov. 27, 1980;
Trooper Raymond E. Worley, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, fatally wounded during a traffic stop on I-95 on May 14, 1985; and
Chief Joseph E. White Jr., Rich Square Police Department, fatally wounded during a traffic stop on July 16, 2000.
“In law enforcement, all give some; some gave all; we never need to forget their service and sacrifice,” Terry concluded.
Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp read the names of the 12 law enforcement officers from his county who have made the ultimate sacrifice:
Officer C.W. Dunn, Scotland Neck Police Dept. (killed on March 7, 1910);
Deputy C.M. Hawkins, Halifax County Sheriff’s Office (Feb. 27, 1916);
Deputy J.E. Perry, Halifax County Sheriff’s Office (Jan. 25, 1931);
Officer A.P. Moore, Scotland Neck Police Dept. (Feb. 16, 1936);
Trooper R.W. Arnold, North Carolina State Highway Patrol (Sept. 17, 1936);
Deputy W.A. Pope, Halifax County Sheriff’s Office (April 3, 1940);
Officer C.L. Massey Sr., Roanoke Rapids Police Dept. (Nov. 21, 1946);
Deputy L.I. Floyd, Halifax County Sheriff’s Office (July 24, 1956);
Deputy W. Godwin, Halifax County Sheriff’s Office (March 2, 1969);
Officer W.E. Vaughan, Roanoke Rapids Police Dept. (May 9, 1977);
Sgt. C.E. Daniel, Roanoke Rapids Police Dept. (March 27, 1983); and
Lt. T.D. Gillikin, Enfield Police Dept. (March 15, 1999).
“We extend our sympathies to the families and to the honor of these men and women as they served HalifaxCounty,” Tripp said.
The ceremony included the laying of a wreath at the memorial marker by a member of the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, and an individual rose laid at that marker in memory of the three Northampton officers killed in the line of duty. Performing that tribute was a representative each from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, and the Rich Square Police Department.
In a special tribute, Northampton County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Darrell Harmon laid a rose at the marker in memory of Joe Magee, a retired correctional officer who worked as a bailiff for the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office before being killed on April 21 of this year in an off-duty motorcycle accident on River Road in Henrico.
Elizabeth City Police Chief Eddie M. Buffaloe Jr., a Northampton County native, served as Master of Ceremony. Margaret Garner sang the National Anthem.