05/10/06 — Law officers memorial

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Law officers memorial

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on May 10, 2006 1:52 PM

Nine Wayne County law-enforcement officers who died in the line of duty were remembered today in an annual ceremony at Wayne Community College.

"Today we honor the memory of the law-enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in Wayne County," said Sheriff Carey Winders, "and show respect for them and the families they left behind."

Goldsboro police Chief Tim Bell said, "We want to remember them and never forget them."

President Kennedy designated May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. Each year a ceremony is held in Washington to honor those who died in the previous year. Wayne County holds a ceremony on the previous Wednesday.

Bell said an officer is killed on average of every 53 hours in the United States. He said 155 died in 2005, including three in North Carolina, and 466 names were added to the national wall at Washington.

Fremont police Chief Wayne Schwark recalled that a former chief, Walter Braswell, was killed after responding to a domestic dispute.

Winders said that when an officer is injured, dies or is killed on duty, law-enforcement officers come together as one. As evidence, he said, officers from different departments responded when Goldsboro police Capt. Brady Thompson was shot in March during a drug arrest.

"It's the same way when we attend a funeral for a fallen comrade," Winders said. "We all come together as one. We all pray we don't have to attend an officer's funeral or add another name to the wall. But it's not a question of if, but of when. The job we all do is dangerous, and we must learn to depend on each other. We are the first line of defense of this country. We may be criticized by the citizens, but they know we put our lives on the line every day."

The first officer to die in the county, Sheriff John Coor Pender, was assassinated in 1816. The last was Sheriff's Capt. Jerry K. Best, who was killed in 2002 by a passing motorist as he removed a dead deer from the highway.

The police chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Rick Cason, offered the invocation, and the sheriff's chaplain, the Rev. Pete Williams, gave the closing prayer. The combined honor guards presented the colors. Officers fired a 21-gun salute near the end of the ceremony. Sheriff's Capt. John Winstead conducted the ceremony.

The Wayne County Emergency Services Memorial was established with public contributions and dedicated in 2002. The college provided the land. The Goldsboro Rotary Club landscaped the memorial.

Those listed on the memorial include:

*Sheriff's Capt. Jerry K. Best, who died Nov. 13, 2002, when he was struck by a vehicle while he was removing a dead deer from N.C. 581.

*State Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Martin, a Mount Olive native, who died July 21, 1988, from injuries received in a head-on collision with a truck as he pursued a fleeing motorcyclist near Reidsville.

*Fremont Police Chief Walter B. Braswell, who was shot to death Nov. 13, 1965, with his own weapon, as he tried to arrest a man after a domestic dispute.

*Goldsboro Police Officer Walter J. Rouse, who was fatally shot Feb. 27, 1968, while apprehending a man who had robbed a motel. Rouse's partner also was shot but survived.

*Goldsboro Police Lt. C. Frank Faircloth and Patrolman Mahlon M. Parks, who died Sept. 19, 1960, in a wreck while pursuing a suspected bootlegger on Stevens Mill Road.

*Goldsboro Police Officer Herbert C. Wiegand, who was killed March 9, 1940, after responding to a domestic call.

*State Highway Patrol Trooper I.T. Moore, who died June 18, 1937, of gunshot wounds suffered while questioning two suspects about the theft of 500 pounds of meat. One suspect shot Moore, and the trooper then killed the other. Moore was the first patrolman in North Carolina to be killed on duty.

*Sheriff John Coor Pender, a former state legislator, who was ambushed and murdered in 1816 while serving an arrest warrant. His 16-year-old son tracked the suspect to the Florida Everglades, arrested him and returned him to Wayne County, where he was tried, convicted and executed.

Others listed on the memorial are fire and rescue workers who died while performing their duty: Thoroughfare Fire Chief H. Sidney Jones, Arrington Fire Lt. Robby Blizzard and rescue personnel Kenneth Davis and James Hickman.