Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Tribute to Those Who Wear the Shield

Dear Family, Friends and Fellow Colleagues,

Prior to November 29, the number of officers lost in the line of duty across this country stood at 107. One hundred and seven officers had given their lives in sacrifice so that others may sleep safely and securely in their beds each night. Today that number stands at 111. Some departments have been hit particularly hard, losing multiple officers. Any single officer lost is a tragedy that spreads grief throughout the ranks. Losing additional officers multiplies that grief many more times than the number lost. On November 29th, it happened again. We lost four heroes from one department in the span of mere seconds. Four brave officers who donned their shields every day to serve and protect their citizens. They rose each day and put on their uniforms. They put on their belts, their guns, their equipment, and their shields. They looked in the mirror before they left for duty to straighten this or shine that. They were four representatives of every law enforcement officer across the nation and they had to look their best. They were cops and that means something...something important.

Every officer knows the risks. They know each day when they pick up that shield that it could be the day they won't come home. Their families know the risks. The sorrow, grief, and enormity of their loss cannot be tempered by that knowledge. There are four more families in Washington tonight who know that sorrow, that grief, and what the enormity of that loss feels like; four families whose loved one did not come home that night because they were taken away. There are four friends who cannot be called on the phone to share a laugh. There are four co-workers who won't be there to back up their fellow officers, give them a pat on the back when they do good, or a nudge in the right direction when they do not so good. There are four guardian angels who gave their all for a city that depended on them. They were four of Lakewood Police Department's finest who were out on the streets every day, always putting their lives on the line, putting themselves between danger and those they protected. And now they're gone; senselessly slaughtered.

They gave their lives to the service of others and that service will never be forgotten. They will never be forgotten. There are no explanations. No amount of words can explain why this happened. We can only take solace in the fact that we know they were welcomed to Heaven by friendly smiles and warm handshakes of the brothers and sisters who have gone before them. We can take comfort in knowing that now they will patrol those golden streets on angel wings and nothing like this can happen to them there. They are safe now.

All four officers had been with the department for five years since its inception, and each one of them was a parent. Sergeant Mark Renninger was 39 years old and had 13 years of law enforcement experience. He is survived by his wife and three children. Officer Ronald Owen was 37 years old. He had a total of 12 years of law enforcement experience and he left behind his daughter. Officer Tina Griswold was 40 years old. She is survied by her husband and two children after a total of 14 years in law enforcement. Officer Greg Richards was 42 years old and had a total of 8 years of law enforcement experience. Among those mourning his loss are his wife and three children.

The staff of "The Shield" would like to express our most heartfelt condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with these brave officers' families, their friends, their fellow officers, and their brothers and sisters in uniform across the State of Washington and the nation. We grieve with you and pray that God will hold you now in the palm of His hand and comfort you in your grief as only He can do.

May God Bless you and your families and our fallen brothers and sister of Washington.

Warm regards,

John A. Pasko
Founder/Chief Executive Officer


When I start my tour of duty God,
Wherever crime may be,
as I walk the darkened streets alone,
Let me be close to thee.

Please give me understanding with both the young and old.
Let me listen with attention until their story's told.
Let me never make a judgment in a rash or callous way,
but let me hold my patience let each man have his say.

Lord if some dark and dreary night,
I must give my life,
Lord, with your everlasting love
protect my children and my wife.

A Police Officer's Prayer
Oh Lord, while I'm on my beat
May I know that you're with me,
And protect me as I go to guard
Other's lives and property.
Help me ignore those who scorn
And show me no respect,
But be mindful of all citizens
I've sworn to protect.
Be with my fellow officers
And guard their safety too.
May I always put duty first
In the work that I must do.
May I not disgrace the uniform
But bring pride to the badge I wear.
That I'd be a good policeman, Lord
Would be my only prayer.


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