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2018-05-23 / Featured / Front Page

County honors fallen officers

Local memorials celebrate National Police Week
BY BEN ORCUTT CONTRIBUTING WRITER


During a memorial service May 17 at Southside Church of the Nazarene, law enforcement officers, friends and family honored those who have died in the line of duty. 
JAMES HASKINS During a memorial service May 17 at Southside Church of the Nazarene, law enforcement officers, friends and family honored those who have died in the line of duty. JAMES HASKINS In a nation where violence – be it school shootings, terrorist attacks or everyday street crime – is a too-common occurrence, the men and women in blue, or Chesterfield green, choose daily to put others’ safety before their own. Even in low-crime localities like this one, policing can mean leaving for work and not coming home. At a series of events last week, local and state law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty were honored for their commitment. The Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office held a badge-pinning ceremony recognizing its first sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty in 1912, and the county held a memorial service honoring all of the county’s fallen officers through the years at Southside Church of the Nazarene. The events were part of Chesterfield’s observance of National Police Week, established under President John F. Kennedy in 1962.


County leaders, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers, family and friends gathered to honor the officers who have been killed during active duty at a memorial service on May 17 at Southside Church of the Nazarene, top. The service included traditional bagpipe music from VSP Pipes and Drums, above. 
PHOTOS BY JAMES HASKINS County leaders, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers, family and friends gathered to honor the officers who have been killed during active duty at a memorial service on May 17 at Southside Church of the Nazarene, top. The service included traditional bagpipe music from VSP Pipes and Drums, above. PHOTOS BY JAMES HASKINS Roughly 200 people attended the memorial service at the church on Courthouse Road, which was hosted by the Chesterfield County Police Department, Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Chesterfield County Police Foundation, Chesterfield County Police Retirees Association and the Chesterfield Fraternal Order of Police.

Chesterfield Detective Chris Rizzuti, who has been with the county police department for 11 years, directed the service.

“It’s without a doubt the greatest honor of my career to be able to do this,” Rizzuti said after the service.

Rizzuti told those gathered that on average a law enforcement officer dies in the line of duty every 61 hours in the United States.

Participants were given plastic candles with blue lights to hold as names were read of officers who lost their lives in Virginia last year, as well as officers from Chesterfield who have fallen in the line of duty since 1912.

“Whether you’re a police chief or a police officer or a member of the community, it’s important to remember the people who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the community and to keep us all safe,” Chesterfield Police Chief Jeffrey S. Katz said following the ceremony.

Lt. Mark Haynes, administrative staff officer for Chesterfield Police and one of the organizers of last week’s event, agreed.

“I think for the families of our fallen officers, this ceremony is important in that it’s a time for them to remember the ones they loved who are still missing and left a hole in their hearts,” he said.

A 20-year veteran of law enforcement, 15 of those with Chesterfield, Haynes said police officers choose to serve even though they know dying in the line of duty is a constant risk.

“Is it a thought, yes,” Haynes said. “It’s in the back of your mind, but it’s something you can easily push aside when you see the good you can do for the community and for people that we serve.”

In attendance were members of Chesterfield Police Explorers Post 609, a volunteer program for youths ages 14-21 to learn about the law enforcement profession.

“This is my fourth one,” said Zach Paquette, a 19-year-old Post 609 member and a sophomore at Longwood University.

Memorial services for fallen officers drive home the point that police are motivated by more than career aspirations, Paquette said.

“They don’t do this just for money,” he said. “They do it to actually help the community.”

Post 609 member Harley Johnston, an 18-year-old senior at Matoaca High School, spoke in a similar vein with regard to the significance of the memorial service.

“It teaches you a lot of respect,” she said. “It teaches you what can really happen in law enforcement.”

According to the Chesterfield County Police Department, the following Virginia law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2017:

Deputy Curtis A. Bartlett of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Bartlett was killed on May 9 in a vehicle crash while responding to assist other law enforcement officers who were involved in a pursuit. Deputy Bartlett was traveling on Route 58 when his patrol car collided with a tractor-trailer that was exiting Interstate 77. Deputy Bartlett was 32 and is survived by his parents and four siblings.

Special Agent Michael T. Walter of the Virginia State Police. Special Agent Walter was shot and killed on May 27 in Richmond while investigating a suspicious vehicle in the area of Redd Street. Special Agent Walter and several Richmond Police officers were conducting high-visibility patrols in the area when they approached the vehicle. As they spoke to the vehicle’s occupants, a passenger opened fire, striking Special Agent Walter. Special Agent Walter was 45 and is survived by his wife, daughter and two sons.

Lieutenant Pilot H. Jay Cullen III and Trooper Pilot Berke M. M. Bates of the Virginia State Police. Lt. Pilot Cullen and Trooper Pilot Bates were killed on Aug. 12 when their helicopter crashed into a wooded area in Albemarle County. They were in the area to monitor civil unrest surrounding the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Lt. Pilot Cullen was 48 and is survived by his wife and two sons. Trooper Pilot Bates was 40 and is survived by his wife, son and daughter. ¦

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