The year isn’t even half over, and already it’s been a crappy one for the Hendersonville Police Department and its extended family.
It’s not that 2020 hasn’t been a bust in general for most of us.
Fears of a coronavirus overwhelming our healthcare system has crippled our economy, forced us to stay in one place for nearly two months, and caused the cancellation or postponement of dozens of celebrations and remembrances.
One of those remembrances was supposed to take place this week in Washington, D.C., where one of our own was slated to be honored for his selfless service to our city.
Following his heartbreaking death in late December, Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol’s name was to be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial this week in conjunction with National Police Week.
Hendersonville officers began planning the trip in early January for Bristol’s fellow officers and family that includes his widow Lauren and young daughter, Eloise.
While a virtual service was held earlier this week to honor Bristol and the 145 other officers killed in the line of duty in 2019, an in-person service will be held at a later date.
The postponement of the national remembrance wasn’t the worst blow COVID-19 has dealt our police department – or our city for that matter.
On April 12, the disease took the life of Lt. Jim Lawson, a 32-year HPD veteran who had retired in 2016.
I’ve been thinking about Lt. Lawson a lot this week – a week in which HPD has held a memorial service for more than 40 years to honor its own fallen officers.
That service has been postponed as well.
For years Lt. Lawson headed up the department’s patrol and SWAT team divisions. As such, he was my main contact for information – often in times of crisis.
I’ll never forget arriving on the scene of a 50-car pile-up on Vietnam Veterans Boulevard and being greeted by Lt. Lawson who had a way of conveying both the gravity and humanity of a situation all at the same time. He was also a really great person.
I last saw Lt. Lawson at the department’s police memorial service a year or two ago where I snapped a photo of him lighting a candle in memory of one of his fallen friends.
Since Friday, May 15 is National Peace Officer’s Memorial Day, it seems appropriate for us to remember those friends here. They are Reserve Officer James Gammons (1974); Sergeant Richard Bandy (1980); Sergeant Jody Sadek (1988), Officer Danny MacClary (2000) and Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol (2019).
The Hendersonville Police Department plans to hold a police memorial service on June 4 at Memorial Park, according to HPD Lt. Larry Daniel.
But the day that we officially recognize these heroes shouldn’t matter as much.
What should matter is that they are never, ever forgotten.
Tena Lee is a reporter for the Hendersonville Standard