(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered a speech on the Senate floor honoring the lives of four Lakewood, Washington police officers who were killed last week in the worst act of violence against law enforcement in Washington state history.
In her speech, Murray discussed the officers’ devotion to their jobs and families:
“When you hear their life stories it’s clear that, to a person, these were officers who beyond all else, were dedicated to family,” Senator Murray said in today’s speech. “Officers who knew that the work they did protected those they loved and families just like theirs. For these four police officers, any reminder of just how critical the duties they performed each day were came when they went home each night.”
Senator Murray also extended her thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims and to the entire law enforcement community:
“As my state prepares to say goodbye to these four heroes, I want to again extend my condolences and the condolences of the entire Senate to their families,” said Senator Murray. “Our law enforcement professionals put themselves between us and danger every day. Right now, in light of such horrible events, we hold them even closer in our own thoughts and prayers.”
Senator Murray’s full remarks on the Senate floor follow:
“Mr. President, tomorrow will be a somber and very difficult day in my home state.
“That’s because tomorrow, just over a week after the single worst act of violence against law enforcement in Washington state history, police officers from across the state and nation, heartbroken Washington state residents, the community of Lakewood, Washington, and the families of the victims of last Sunday’s brutal attack on four police officers – will gather to say goodbye.
“Tomorrow’s memorial for the four officers killed on the morning of November 29th will begin with a procession that leaves from just steps away from the coffee shop that was the site of that senseless and cowardly attack.
“An attack in which four officers were targeted solely because they were in uniform….solely because they had sworn to protect their community.
“The procession will then weave its way through that very community – Lakewood, Washington. A community that has been devastated by this tragedy. A community where these four officers were original members of their police force – and were loved and respected by their colleagues and the people they served.
“Along the way, the procession route is expected to be lined by thousands of Lakewood residents and by all those who have been so deeply affected by this tragedy from throughout my state.
“At the Lakewood Police Department the procession will stop to pick up the families of the fallen officers – families who together now include nine children left without a parent – families whose grief is hard to imagine. The procession will end at a service that is expected to be attended by more than 20,000 law enforcement officers from every corner of my state and from throughout the nation.
“It will be an emotional end to a week that has rocked my home state. It will also be farewell for four police officers who devoted and ultimately gave their lives to protect others.
“Mr. President, law enforcement is not for everyone. In fact, it takes a special kind of person to be willing to wake up each day - motivated and ready to be the line of protection between dangerous criminals and our neighborhoods and people.
“But in the case of Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officers Gregory Richards, Tina Griswold and Ronald Owens it’s easy to see where they got that motivation from.
“When you hear their life stories it’s clear that, to a person, these were officers who beyond all else, were dedicated to family. Officers who knew that the work they did protected those they loved and families just like theirs.
“In a telling quote this week, a fellow Lakewood officer described his fallen colleagues by saying that they were quote “executed because they were cops, but that none of them saw their lives that way.” Instead he said they saw themselves first and foremost as family men and women.
“For these four police officers, any reminder of just how critical the duties they performed each day were came when they went home each night.
“Mr. President, Officer Greg Richards leaves behind a wife and three children. He was an eight year veteran who served in the Kent Police Department before joining the Lakewood department. In memorials he has been described as a glass half full guy, someone who made things better for the people around him. His wife Kelly has talked this week about his passion for music, his job and of course his family.
“Officer Tina Griswold leaves behind a husband and two children. She was a 14 year veteran who served in the police departments in Shelton and Lacey before joining the Lakewood police force in 2004. She stood 4 foot 11 but as her colleagues have said many times – she wouldn’t back down from anyone. She was a member of the riot response team, a hard-charging officer and mom who loved her job and her family.
“Officer Ronald Owens leaves behind a daughter. Owens followed his father into law enforcement and was a 12 year veteran who served on the Washington State Patrol before moving to the Lakewood Police Department. He has been remembered as spending almost all of his off-duty time with his daughter - attending all of her school functions, riding bikes together, and treating her to nights out whenever he could.
“Sgt. Mark Renninger leaves behind a wife and three children. He was a veteran, who wore the uniform of the United States before putting on the uniform of the Tukwila Police Department in 1996. He joined the Lakewood Police Department in 2004. He was an Army Ranger and has been described as having the kind of natural leadership abilities that put other officers at ease in difficult situations. He was a SWAT team trainer known for an enthusiasm for his job. But he was also remembered this week for the joy that family brought him – whether it was trips to Mariners games or family vacations to Mount Rainier.
“Mr. President, this was a senseless and brutal killing – and it specifically targeted the people who sacrifice each day to keep all of us safe. This terrible crime has not only left the families of the victims shattered, but it has shattered our sense of safety and left an entire community in disbelief.
“It was also part of a shockingly violent month for my state’s law enforcement community that has also included a senseless attack on October 31st which killed Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton and left another officer - Britt Sweeney - injured.
“These attacks remind all of us of the incredible risks our law enforcement officers take each day…And that even when doing the most routine aspects of their jobs, our law enforcement officers put themselves on the line for our safety.
“Already this year more than 100 police officers across our country have given their lives while serving to protect us. Each of these tragedies sheds light on just how big a sacrifice our police officers make in the line of duty.
“But these most recent attacks in my home state also offer an important reminder that our officers are always in the line of duty. Even when they are training other officers, out on routine patrols, or simply having coffee.
“Mr. President, there is no doubt that these senseless attacks have left many law enforcement officers across my state and our country feeling targeted. But there is also no doubt that their willingness to put themselves on the line to protect us will continue unshaken.
“That is a testament to the commitment they make to serve and protect us every day. And it should remind all of us that these brave men and women deserve all the support we can provide to keep them safe.
“Mr. President, as my state prepares to say goodbye to these four heroes, I want to again extend my condolences and the condolences of the entire United States Senate to their families. Our law enforcement professionals put themselves between us and danger every day. Right now, in light of such horrible events, we hold them even closer in our own thoughts and prayers.