Seattle police officers and family members of fallen officers remembered the dead in a ceremony on Friday at Forest Lawn Cemetery in West Seattle, where a permanent memorial to the city's 58 officers killed in the line of duty is planned.
Ernie and Emelita Barber have traveled to Washington, D.C., and to the Capitol campus in Olympia to view the memorials honoring fallen police officers, including their son, Seattle police Officer Joselito Barber, who was killed in August 2006 when a felon high on drugs crashed her SUV into the side of the officer’s patrol car.
Barber’s parents look forward to the day they can visit a West Seattle cemetery and see their son’s name — along with the names of 57 other Seattle officers killed in the line of duty since the department was established in 1881 — carved into a forged-glass and granite memorial.
“Nobody wants their loved one on a wall, but at least this is an opportunity to remember” the officers’ sacrifices and “have a place” to do so in the city where the officers served and died, Ernie Barber said.
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“The guiding force has been: What would he want of us?” Barber said, adding that he aims to live his life honorably as a way to honor his son. “The burden of grief is ours to carry. While we don’t expect the community to carry that daily, hopefully on days like this the citizens will join us in that effort.”
On Friday, which Mayor Mike McGinn declared Seattle Police Memorial Day, about 70 people — most of them uniformed Seattle officers — gathered near the future site of the memorial on the grounds of Forest Lawn Cemetery. Detective Harry W. Vosper, who was killed in a gunfight on July 21, 1949, is buried at the cemetery, along with r several retired officers and their family members.
Dave Salove, Forest Lawn’s general manager and the founding chairman of the Seattle Police Memorial, estimated the newly formed nonprofit will need to raise a yet-to-be-determined, six-figure sum before the monument, which is still being designed, can be installed in the next year or two. While the city of Seattle has police memorials at each precinct and at police headquarters on Fifth Avenue, “we don’t have a free-standing police memorial” that’s accessible to the public, said Salove, who began working on the project shortly before Officer Tim Brenton was fatally shot on Halloween night 2009.
Brenton’s mother, Penny, also attended Friday’s service but declined to be interviewed.
For the past four years, the cemetery has been the site of annual memorial services, which are always held during the week of May 15, National Police Week, established by President Kennedy in 1962 to honor fallen officers.
Since the first recorded instance in 1791, more than 19,000 law-enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty nationally. In Washington, 294 officers have died doing their jobs, a number that includes Ranger Margaret Anderson, who was fatally shot New Year’s Day in Mount Rainier National Park, and Trooper Tony Radulescu, who was gunned down in February during a traffic stop near Gorst, Kitsap County. The list also includes the four Lakewood police officers who were slain in a Pierce County coffee shop in November 2009, in what was the deadliest attack on law-enforcement in state history.
Seattle Police Chief John Diaz — who was able to attend the service because of an unexpected opening in his schedule — said it is always difficult for family members and the law-enforcement community “each time we sit and reflect” on those killed in the line of duty.
“In remembering, we rededicate ourselves to our calling,” Diaz said. “… These heroes encourage us to dig deeper,” and it’s important to remember not only the causes for which they fought, but for the way they served.
“We’re inspired to do our part to make this a better and safer community for all,” the chief said.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or email@example.com