A Personal Tribute to the Fallen Heroes of Lakewood, WA

Pamela Cei Brisky, a former traffic safety coordinator who worked with the police in the Seattle-Tacoma area, reached out to Kevin Morison, NLEOMF’s Senior Director of Communications, to pay her personal respects to the four officers from Lakewood, WA, who were killed in the line of duty on November 29. In addition to writing the following tribute, Pamela also ordered a wreath in honor of the officers, which was placed at the Memorial on the same day as their memorial service in Lakewood.

I moved to the DC Metro area from Washington State in 2006. While I lived in Washington State I worked as the DUI/Traffic Safety Coordinator for Mason County out of the Shelton Police Department. I was a civilian employee whose role was to act as an inter-agency coordinator between the municipal, county, tribal and state agencies. Officer [Tina] Griswold made her start at Shelton Police Department. By the time I came on board, she was with the Lacey Police Department. My friends who remain at the PD and those who have scattered have shared stories of a funny, sharp, spit-fire of a person. She has been, best as I can tell, remembered with as many smiles and with as much laughter as she has with tears.

Shelton is a tiny agency and the Puget Sound area is a small community. You have but to tap a shoulder of a stranger to find someone who had either grown up with, gone through the academy along-side, or worked with one of the fallen Lakewood officers. In that area there are probably two to three degrees of separation. I frequently rode with our county’s agencies as well as those (on occasion) in Thurston and Pierce Counties and met so many great people who remain friends. So, in answer to the “Why?” I have a thousand answers. I guess I would say in a place like where we lived no one was a stranger or remained one for long. But, mostly, I would say that as a former citizen having lived under their watch, I wanted to say “thank you.”

As I told you, I believe it may have been Tina’s old uniform that we used for kids to wear when posing for pictures with the patrol cars at the fair. I can remember how excited they were to dress up in a real police uniform. We used them because they were small. That irony is not lost on me now. It is obvious from the outpouring from friends and strangers – members of the community near and far – over the last eight days that there was nothing small about Tina, or any of these officers. I can’t think of anyone bigger. In a society where we look to the rich and famous to be our heroes rising and falling from grace, it truly is the grace of these four fallen that begs the descriptor “Hero.”

“In valor there is hope.” This happens to be my favorite quotation and the most aptly chosen for the NLEOMF monument. Heroes bring us hope and inspire us to bring out the best in ourselves as citizens.

I am the child of a police officer. My parents were (ironically) killed coming back from a police Christmas party a week before Christmas by a drunk driver. While my father (or mother) was not killed in the line of duty, I understand the loss the families feel on some level, of having someone taken so senselessly and so unexpectedly. I dread what lies ahead for them. We always talk about our fallen officers (and soldiers) paying the ultimate price, but it is the survivors that bear the Hero’s burden. I guess I just wanted something tangible here, far away, to say that none of them are forgotten – and probably, selfishly, to feel like I did something small to say that I care for everyone who is back there dealing with this first hand. My brother wrote my parent’s epitaph that appears on their headstone, “The example you have set through the lives you have lived has provided us with the goals and guidance for our own. Until we are joined together again, you remain in our hearts. Eternal Thanks.” In my own personal case, that was my hero’s goodbye and it is one said too soon to Officers Griswold, Owens and Richards and Sergeant Renninger.

Thank you,

Pamela Cei Brisky