Observance day focuses on officer sacrifice
Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day, and U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin is asking West Virginians to recognize those sacrifices today.
Goodwin's office issued a news release asking that everyone observe Peace Officers Memorial Day. The observance is held nationwide in conjunction with National Police Week, May 12-18.
"The selfless and unsung work that our men and women in uniform do each day is remarkable," Goodwin said in the statement. "Members of law enforcement give their all - 24 hours a day, seven days a week - to keep us safe.
"Police officers do much more than just catch the bad guys and put them in jail. They are community problem solvers," he added.
"They do it all: whether it's helping a stranded motorist, apprehending a gun-wielding robbery suspect, stopping drug traffickers from ravaging our communities, or serving as role models to our children. We can always count on them."
Officers in West Virginia have dealt with a rash of violence directed against them, said Capt. Joe White, director of professional standards for the West Virginia State Police.
Cpl. Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman were both gunned down while on duty last August while arresting Luke Baber, 22, of Oak Hill.
Bailey was pronounced dead on the scene near the Clay/Roane county line. Workman succumbed to his wounds after nearly three days on life support.
Baber also wounded Roane County Deputy John Westfall before police gunned him down. Westfall recovered from his injuries.
Bailey's and Workman's names were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington. Their names were read Monday night during a ceremony.
Their names were among the 321 officers placed on the memorial this year.
Those names included Sgt. Michael Todd May, a veteran of the Monongalia County Sheriff's Department, who was killed in February 2012 when a hit-and-run suspect who was fleeing police hit his stopped vehicle.
Pennsylvania State Police charged Jerod Alan Green of Morgantown in the case.
The list also includes officers killed many years ago who were not officially recognized. For example, Lincoln County Constable Charles Roy Hager's name was added to the memorial.
Hager was killed in 1927 while trying to disarm a suspect, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Jonas P. Thatcher's name was also added to the memorial. Thatcher, a police chief in Moundsville, was shot and killed in 1886 by a suspect while serving an arrest warrant, according to the memorial page.
Although his name was not added to the memorial for 2012, Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum is also fondly remembered for his service, White said.
Crum was shot and killed in April in downtown Williamson in broad daylight.
"The recognition given to law enforcement this week is humbling," he said. "But we still recognize that we have a job to do and we're going to do it."
White thanked Goodwin for asking that all officers be recognized.
"Booth Goodwin works closely with state and local law enforcement officers," White said. "He recognizes the dangers."
Kanawha County Sheriff Johnny Rutherford said deputies in his department engage in training to minimize injuries and fatalities on the job.
"We've really upped our training and we try to make sure our officers are safe," he said.
Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster also said his office attempts to train officers on safety but circumstances can spiral out of control. That's a situation he is all too familiar with.
Charleston Patrolman Jerry Jones was killed by friendly fire during a pursuit in a hit-and-run case in 2009.
Webster said the city's honor guard is in Washington for the memorial services this week.
"It makes the officers feel good to be recognized," Webster said.
Flags at all federal and state facilities will be flown at half staff today in honor of law enforcement officers.
Officials are also asking citizens to fly their personal flags at half-staff today.
"I encourage all West Virginians: if you see a member of law enforcement on Wednesday or at any time this week, take a few seconds to say thank you," Goodwin said.