Fallen officers remembered at Memorial service - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Fallen officers remembered at Memorial service

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It's a sobering statistic: nationwide, 42 law enforcement officers have been killed so far this year, three of those have been from Georgia.

Chatham County hasn't lost an officer since 1999. Today our local officers and family paused to remember 51 of our own who've given their lives protecting us.

One red rose laid for each officer who's laid down their life. Family and extended police family paid their respects today. Melinda Henninge's mother is the only woman who's lost her life in the line of duty in Chatham County.

"Working, being a police officer was momma's love." Henninge remembers. "That phone would ring in the middle of the night, and us girls would get up and get her jump suit ready for her to get on out the door so she could go."

Her mom, Doreen McCumber a Chatham County Police Officer and she worked in the traffic unit, but one day in 1988, Doreen was directing traffic on Ogeechee Road and never came home. She was hit and killed.

Jerry McChord gives us some insight into what his grandfather dealt with before being shot to death in 1921.

"He happened onto a robbery, and they got him. He was left handed, but in the day, you had to wear the gun on the right side, so while he was fumbling to get his gun, they got him." said McChord.

McChord's family didn't even know of the memorial until a few years ago. He says he was lucky enough to bring his mother before she died so she could honor the father she never knew.

About 10 years ago, McChord was on a tour of Savannah, and one of the guides pointed out the memorial. He and wife thought surely his grandfather was on it. They found his name and it was spelled incorrectly, so they went inside and talked to one of the officers.

"At the time there was a Lieutenant Jimmy Stevens, and he helped us out a lot. We didn't have his badge number so we could put it on his grave, and we've got that now."

Some family members may be long gone or moved but Guest Speaker and FBI Special Agent, Gene Kowel paid his respects to the first officers killed in 1868.

"Patrolman Robert Read and Patrolman Samuel Bryson here in town were attempting to restore order after a riot broke out by citizens protesting the election of Ulysses Grant. Read and Bryson were shot; Read died the same day, Patrolman Bryson the next." Kowel recounted.

Officer Read had no family, and the city paid for his plot in Laurel Grove Cemetery, but his grave was not properly marked, but ironically marked with just the numbers 911.

Just a few of the amazing stories for all 51 officers who protected and served.

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