270 reasons to pay your respects in Wash.
Copyright 2006 The News Tribune
Members of the law enforcement community and relatives of slain officers prepare to dedicate a state memorial in Olympia to 270 officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Andrew Bolon was a trailblazer.
After coming west on a wagon train in 1845, he was sheriff of Clark County and elected to Washington's first Legislature with 122 votes on Feb. 3, 1854.
On Sept. 25, 1855, his name joined a more grim part of the state's history.
While working as a Bureau of Indian Affairs agent, the 29-year-old Bolon went to investigate the slayings of six prospectors on the Yakima River. Riding horseback, he encountered a group of American Indians and later was attacked and killed.
His death marked the beginning of the Yakama Indian War. His name leads a list of 270 law enforcement officers who died while wearing their badges and serving their communities in Washington state.
"It's a nice place to do something in remembrance of these people," said Anita Keller, Bolon's great-great-great-granddaughter. The Cheney resident plans to attend today's ceremony, which will include a reading of the officers' names.
"We want to make sure we never forget who they were, what they did, and what they did for their fellow officers and community," Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell said. "We all have something in common when we go there."
The ceremony marks the end of a 10-year journey for officers and survivors of slain comrades who wanted a state memorial similar to the national monument in Washington, D.C.
"It has been a long dream, and it has come to fruition," said Gayle Frink-Schulz, executive director for the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation. Her husband, Washington State Patrol trooper Steven Frink, was killed in a motorcycle accident in March 1993.
Jolin Lowry's husband, Tacoma police officer William Lowry, was fatally shot nearly nine years ago while trying to arrest an East Side man. She has been to the national memorial for National Police Week but looks forward to having a monument closer to home. The Lowrys' 9-year-old daughter, Frances, also is excited about the wall.
"It'll be nice that we will have that opportunity to go whenever we want to," Jolin Lowry said. "It will be nice to have something local and to show the respect for all fallen officers and for family that cannot make it (to Washington, D.C.)."
The new memorial is north of the Temple of Justice on land donated by the state. The site overlooks Heritage Park and Puget Sound.
Engraved on the wall are the names of every officer killed in the line of duty, their agencies and the date their watch ended. The oldest deaths are closest to the center of the wall, with the most recent on its outer flanks.
More than $2 million in private donations and a federal grant sponsored by the Pierce County Sheriff's Department were used to pay for the memorial. The foundation did not want to ask for money from the state, Frink-Schulz said.
"It was more a pride thing," she said. "This was a memorial of the people and to the people."
After the dedication the memorial will be turned over to the state.
Two other memorials honor the state's fallen officers. The state Basic Law Enforcement Academy in Burien has a memorial garden that honors police officers, corrections officers and police dogs who have died while working. Spokane City Hall has a memorial listing all the slain officers' names.
But survivors and others wanted a more central memorial.
Patty Nollmeyer Rubottom, widow of slain Tacoma police officer Craig Nollmeyer, sees value in the memorial wall and others.
"They are needed for the people who have lost loved ones and for us to realize how many lives are lost," she said. "I know that, with my daughter, sometimes she need to feel close to her dad."
Of the 270 officers, two were women: Washington State Patrol trooper Glenda Thomas, who was killed in a car accident in May 1985, and Washington State Parks officer Catherine E. Secor, who died in a car crash in May 2000.
Fifteen officers worked for federal agencies and five with tribal police forces. The Tacoma Police Department has lost 10 men, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department four and the Puyallup Police Department three.
One family has two names on the wall.
Kitsap County Sheriff Daniel L. Blankenship died in a car crash Nov. 4, 1934, while taking one of his brothers, Undersheriff Rush Blankenship, to the hospital. Six years later, another brother, Kitsap County Sheriff Paul R. Blankenship, was killed in a car accident.
The story of the death of Bolon, the Bureau of Indian Affairs agent, has been passed down through the generations.
"I've always known about him since I was a little kid," said Keller, who has been researching her family history for more than 20 years. "It was just a tragic thing in our family that he was killed."
Bolon's body was never found. Two markers in southeast Washington remember his sacrifice, Keller said. She found one but not the second, which is on private property.
For his family, the new memorial will be a place to go to honor him.
"It is some place we can go to respect him," Keller said. "There is nothing for him otherwise."
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