TV Newsman Recounts the Fallen Officers He Covered

At first, it seemed an unlikely choice for a guest speaker at a law enforcement memorial service: a veteran TV newsman who has built his career covering the police … and not always in a positive light.

But at Monday’s 30th Annual Memorial Service for Washington-area Law Enforcement Officers, Pat Collins of NBC 4 (WRC-TV) did not disappoint. Collins spoke passionately and forcefully about the numerous DC-area officers killed in the line of duty that he had reported on over the years.

He said he can’t pass through the intersection of Georgia and Missouri Avenues in Northwest DC without thinking of Metropolitan Police Master Patrol Officer Brian Gibson, who was shot and killed there in February 1997 by a man who had been thrown out of a local nightclub and vowed to kill the next cop he saw. That cop happened to be Brian Gibson, sitting in his cruiser. Collins said he can’t go to Forestville, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, without thinking of Metropolitan Police Officer Oliver Wendell Smith Jr., who was killed during a robbery outside his apartment complex while off duty.

And Collins said he can never go to MPD Headquarters, where Monday’s ceremony was held, without thinking of MPD Sergeant Hank Daly and FBI Special Agents Martha Martinez and Michael Miller. All three were gunned in November 1994 in the Cold Case Squad room inside the headquarters building. The killer: a gang member seeking to prove that he wasn’t a snitch. The building on Indiana Avenue, NW, was subsequently renamed in Daly’s honor.

After recounting these and other deaths, Collins repeated, “It is important to remember their service and sacrifice. It gives strength and focus to our lives.”

Soon after his remarks, a lone MPD helicopter flew overhead. Then, friends, colleagues and loved ones of fallen officers from the DC area lined up to place white carnations at the Memorial Fountain.

On tap for tomorrow: the Police Unity Tour Arrival Ceremony – 2 pm at the Memorial. For more information about National Police Week 2009, including a complete schedule of events, visit www.nleomf.org/NPW2009.