Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Remembering the Longest Serving Fallen Heroes

Earlier this week I wrote about the 74 fallen officers who were killed during their first day on the job. In that article I referenced the mantra that police work is a calling. Today I want to honor those officers who prove that saying to be true through their extraordinary long service in the law enforcement brotherhood.

Many officers who enter the field look forward to retiring at 20 or 25 years. Some may make it to the 30, or even 35 year mark. But only a very few continue to serve beyond that.

Reserve Deputy Henry Willeford pinned on the badge for the very first time in 1954. Over the next five decades he continued protecting the citizens of Arkansas, while raising a family of 15 children! Just those facts alone show that he was a man who cherished the lives of others. In fact, on June 13, 2002, he had just finished his shift when he encountered an obstruction in the roadway. To prevent other motorists from striking it, he blocked the lane of traffic with his patrol car and attempted to remove it from the roadway. However, he was struck by an oncoming car. He remained bedridden for the next seven years until passing away from his injuries November 16, 2009. With 55 years on the job, Reserve Deputy Willeford is the longest serving lawman known to be killed in the line duty.

In addition to Reserve Deputy Willeford, 40 other peace officers with more than four decades of service are known to have been killed in the line of duty. Combined, these 41 officers had a combined total of 1,755 years of law enforcement service! They are a true testament to the selfless giving all police officers make everyday.

Always remembered...

55 years Reserve Deputy Sheriff Henry Jorden Willeford Van Buren County Sheriff's Office, AR
54 years City Marshal William Matthew Tilghman Cromwell Police Department, OK
54 years Investigator Jerry Crabtree Franklin County Sheriff's Department, TN
51 years Night Marshal Alexander Dotson Sutton Pulaski County Sheriff's Department, MO
50 years Deputy Sheriff John Bell Jones Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, TN
46 years Chief of Police W. L. Echols Van Alstyne Police Department, TX
46 years Patrolman Timothy Foley Southington Police Department, CT
44 years Police Officer Thomas M. Knevet Hartford Police Department, CT
44 years Chief of Police Alvis F. (Tuffy) Maddox Childress Police Department, TX
44 years City Marshal William E. Kelly Oxnard Police Department, CA
43 years Deputy Sheriff Paul Steven Habelt Henderson County Sheriff's Department, TX
43 years State Constable Robert Lee Bailey South Carolina State Constable, SC
43 years Lieutenant David T. Dunigan Metropolitan Police Department, DC
43 years Police Officer Thomas F. Steinacker Baltimore City Police Department, MD
43 years Lieutenant James F. Day Chicago Police Department, IL
42 years Chief of Police Jeremiah Joseph Murphy Butte Police Department, MT
42 years Special Deputy Marshal Stanley W. Cooper United States Department of Justice - Marshals Service, US
42 years Sheriff Joel L. Powers Goochland County Sheriff's Office, VA
41 years Deputy Sheriff Dave H. Jennings Jr. Tallahatchie County Sheriff's Department, MS
41 years Police Officer Norman Stinger Philadelphia Police Department, PA
41 years Patrolman Wilbert Wiggins Sr. Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, FL
41 years Chief of Police Richard Allen Brush Point Comfort Police Department, TX
41 years Police Officer Henry L. Eichelberger St. Louis Police Department, MO
41 years Town Marshal Jack O'Leary Rapid City Police Department, SD
40 years Corporal Edward Roy Davenport Long Beach Police Department, CA
40 years Chief of Police Sheridan O. Caton Elk Lick Township Police Department, PA
40 years Sergeant Patrick Ryan Cleveland Police Department, OH
40 years Chief of Police Walter Brannon Braswell Fremont Police Department, NC
40 years Chief of Police James Leonard Speer Calipatria Police Department, CA
40 years Bureau Chief Charles Mills New York State Office of Tax Enforcement - Petroleum, Alcohol and Tobacco Bureau, NY
40 years Patrolman Howard William Eye Calais Police Department, ME
40 years Constable David Thomas Palmer Pumpkin Center Police Department, OK
40 years County Policeman William Lee Cape Pickens County Police Department, GA
40 years Deputy Sheriff William C. Jackson Trinity County Sheriff's Department, CA
40 years Deputy Robert Bruce Parsons Denton County Sheriff's Office, TX
40 years Constable Hans R. Gassaway Barren County District One Constable's Office, KY
40 years Town Sergeant John Smith Foster Police Department, RI
40 years Sergeant John Cronin Chicago Police Department, IL
40 years Special Deputy Stephen Joseph Hahn Eau Claire County Sheriff's Office, WI
40 years Chief Deputy Sheriff George Miller Edwards Union Parish Sheriff's Department, LA
40 years Assistant Chief of Police Henry Brinkmeyer Middletown Police Department, OH

Do you know of any officers I missed? If so, please post the information in the comment form below.