Police to pay tribute to fallen Deputy

Published 7:09 pm Thursday, September 3, 2015

The recent ambush killing of Harris County Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth lies heavily on the minds and hearts of local law enforcement.

Several local police departments will send representatives to Goforth’s funeral which is set for 11 a.m. Friday in Houston and all law enforcement agencies have been asked by Gov. Greg Abbott to turn on their red and blue flashing lights for one minute at 11 a.m. Friday, the time Deputy Goforth’s funeral is set to begin.

For Port Arthur Police Chief Mark Blanton, the symbolic flashing patrol car lights shows camaraderie of law enforcement.

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“The officer assassinated, that could have been any one of us,” Blanton said.

During Blanton’s lengthy career as an officer of the law he has experienced the grief of losing two fellow officers as well as shootings and stabbings of officers.

Det. Steve Hall was shot and killed while executing a search warrant at a local home on Aug. 6, 1976 and on Nov. 14, 1992, Det. Milton Levy II, 35, died of a heart attack while arresting a man for assault. Levy was at the station was the call came in of an assault in progress. He ran about a block to the scene where he found a woman being violently assaulted. He suffered a heart attack while stopping the assault.

Blanton also recalled when Officer Matt Bulls was shot during a confrontation with a suspect.

“Officer Bulls would have died if he had not been wearing his body armor,” Blanton said.

His list continued; Officer Tomie Gipson was shot in the leg while attempting to apprehend two robbery suspects, Sgt. Jeremy Lloyd was shot while on duty and Officer John Anderson was stabbed while on duty.

Blanton himself was injured in the line of duty when he was stabbed by a suspect in the late 1980’s.

Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine said his officers will line their vehicles up in front of the police station to show respect for Deputy Goforth and to show a stand with fellow law enforcement.

“It’s about time for someone above the local or county level to take a stand for law enforcement,” Lemoine said referring to the Governor’s statewide call. “Because of the negative rhetoric and hateful comments we need to band together because we’re being targeted.”

Lemoine remembers when news of Goforth’s murder made news headlines.

“It gives you a sick feeling,” he said. “It doesn’t change out attitude toward the public and those were have sworn to protect. It just makes us more aware, more cautious.”

Groves City Marshal Norman Reynolds Jr. said he would also have his officers line up their vehicles to take part in the tribute. Reynolds agrees with Lemoine in that something must be done from above the local and county level in addressing the recent rash of shootings of officers.

“Unfortunately, we can’t really understand how somebody would be motivated to do something like this,” Reynolds said regarding the shooting of the deputy. “I hope it’s not a trend.”

Reynolds, who has been in law enforcement for more than 30 years, empathizes with the Harris County Sheriff who received the fateful call of ‘officer down.’

“I would hate to get that call,” he said. “It’s my worst nightmare.”

Nederland Police Chief Darrell Bush will line police vehicles in front of the station on Boston Avenue to participate in the event.

“We need to show our solidarity,” Bush said. “We are fortunate in that Nederland supports law enforcement. The flashing of the lights is a nice tribute to this deputy who lost his life for no particular reason at all except that he worse the badge.”

Bush said Goforth’s murder both made him sick and broke his heart.

“It’s hard especially when a police officer is attacked or attacked and killed,” Bush said. “It’s not just one person to another person — it’s about our society and what it stands for.”

All four men said they have seen an uptick of gratitude from the public towards law enforcement.

“Recently I’ve noticed citizens thanking officers for their service,” Blanton said.

Some, he said, have had their meals paid for and he has been thanked for his service while in uniform and off duty.

Reynolds has also seen people coming forward in appreciation of police recently.

“I was eating dinner and a man came by and told us who much he appreciated us,” Reynolds said. “Folks come by the station with gift cards and one person called and asked what he could do to support us.”

Bush said he too has noticed lately that more people are stepping forward to show their gratitude. A local daycare sent 10 pizzas and drinks to the police station and a woman stopped by with a cake. Officers have also received gift cards to local restaurants and a local florist brought her grandchildren by to deliver roses to the officers.

In addition to Gov. Abbott asking law enforcement to flash their red and blue lights at 11 a.m., the Governor also ordered Texas flags across the state to be flown at half-staff Friday, Sept. 4.

“Texans across the state are uniting in support of Deputy Goforth and every law enforcement officer who puts their life on the line each day in order to keep Texas safe and strong,” Governor Abbott said in a press release. “We must come together to honor Deputy Goforth and the essential role law enforcement plays in serving and protecting our states’s families and communities. Therefore I ask all Texas flags to be lowered to half-staff on Friday, September 4th, to honor the bravery, the dedication and the everlasting memory of Deputy Darren Goforth.”

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