Arlington honors fallen police officers

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by CHRIS HAWES

WFAA

Posted on May 12, 2011 at 1:05 AM

Updated Thursday, May 12 at 1:36 PM

ARLINGTON -- Arlington took time Wednesday night to remember the men and women who were killed in the line of duty.

They lost their lives to terrible accidents, cold-blooded killers, and drunk drivers.

The most recent death of an Arlington police officer came last December; the first was more than 80 years ago.

But their families, the department, and community members are committed to ensuring their names are not forgotten.

On November 23, 1930, James Evan Johnson became the first Arlington police officer to die in the line of duty. His death has been followed by seven more.

Every year, the department holds a memorial service to honor the city's fallen officers Every year, Geri Nichols is there. Her father, Officer Jerry Crocker, died along with Officer Terry Lynn Lewis when their patrol car was hit by a drunk driver.

"It's still not easy," Nichols said. "It's hard every time we come."

During the ceremony, the families stood alongside the families of Officer Craig Story, who died last January, and Officer Jillian Smith, who was killed during a domestic violence call in December.

Police Chief Theron Bowman said Smith's actions saved a little girl's life. "You had an opportunity to no doubt back out, or to run," he said, "but you looked to the right and you saw an 11-year-old."

The ceremony closed with the playing of "Taps" and a hymn.

The families said "goodbye," but they'll never again be strangers.

"We can relate to each other," Geri Nichols said. "It's one big family now, so we help each other out, keep each other going."

And she said all of them hope that next year, there will be no need for yet another row reserved for a family left behind.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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