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Mercer Island police attend Lakewood officers' memorial

The Mercer Island Police Department's entire command staff and a handful of retired members were among the more than 20,000 law enforcement officers who attended the Dec. 8 memorial ceremony for the four Lakewood police slain last month. The Island's Special Operations Team (SOT) was also at the Tacoma Dome memorial, working as part of the event's security.

"It was a very powerful, moving ceremony that really drew the law enforcement and greater community together," said Mercer Island Police Chief Ed Holmes. "There were a lot of tears."

Mercer Island Police Cmdr. Leslie Burns echoed Holmes' sentiment.

"It's a tragedy that any department in this country or the world can experince. You can definitely personalize it. When one department suffers, we all suffer," she said.

The memorial service for slain Lakewood police Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officers Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards and Ronnie Owens commenced at 2 p.m. on Dec. 8 in the Tacoma Dome. Thousands of law-enforcement officers, among them an estimated 600 from British Columbia, 100 each from Chicago and New York, and others from across the United States and Washington were present.

The service was proceeded by a 10-mile vehicle procession from Lakewood to the Tacoma Dome. Initially, officials expected around 1,000 to 1,500 police and fire vehicles to participate, but the actual number was closer to 2,000.

Security at the event was a top priority, with snipers posted on rooftops, bomb-sniffing dogs on the ground and SWAT teams -- including Mercer Island's SOT officers -- across the premises.

"It was a lot. Everyplace you looked there were SWAT members on the roof. They were on every corner and in the parking lot," Burns recalled. "It was a very well thought out, planned and executed memorial."

The four Lakewood police were murdered on the morning of Nov. 29 by Maurice Clemmons while they were having coffee at a Pierce County cafe. It is the deadliest attack on law enforcement in Washington state history. Clemmons was shot and killed by an officer in South Seattle on Dec. 1.

A fundraiser has been set up by the Lakewood Police Guild for the slain officers' families. If interested in donating, visit: www.lpig.us

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