Oakland stops to honor fallen officers

May 5, 2011 7:40:08 PM PDT
The city of Oakland marked a somber tradition on Thursday, honoring every officer killed in the line of duty since 1867.

The families of Oakland police officers killed in the line of duty make this walk every year; they are led by a procession of motorcycles, greeted by saluting officers, and honored by a flag almost as tall as police headquarters. And every year, there is a sobering realization: that sometimes in this job, luck is the thing you need most when you show up for work.

"You're just simply lucky, you're just simply lucky that you got to go home that day," said Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts.

The number of Oakland officers who never made it home now stands at 51. On a single day in 2009, four names were added to that list after a wanted parolee opened fire during a traffic stop. The families of those officers are just the newest members of this grieving club.

Officer George White's relatives know little about how he was killed. After all, it was back in 1907. It was only through a recent genealogy search that his great grandchildren learned about their ties to officer White and to each other. Brother and sister William Shea and Judy Lynn live in the Bay Area, but were raised apart and never knew about each other.

"It's kind of overwhelming. All of a sudden, I've got cousins all over the country," said William Shea, White's great grandson.

Shea also has a great grandfather with a long legacy.

"I never thought I'd have the chance to be in the same room as the families of those fallen officers," said Judy Lynn, White's great granddaughter.

Now, they are all part of the same family.


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