In the line of duty

May 16, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD


It has been more than 30 years since Hagerstown Police Department Officer Donald R. Kline was killed trying to apprehend a robber.

On Monday, the time lapse didn't matter to Washington County law enforcement officers who gathered to memorialize at least seven local officers killed before Kline and those killed in the line of duty across the country.

A small group of officers stood at attention Monday at City Park in a line formed to recognize National Peace Officers Memorial Day, which was being observed across the country as part of National Police Week.


As Sheriff's Department Chaplain Bill McPherson and others spoke and prayed, deputies and officers faced four saplings - one each to symbolize career firefighters, volunteer firefighters, police officers and rescue workers who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

A wreath was placed beneath the police officer tree, which sits on an embankment near the overflow parking lot at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

Federal buildings flew flags at half-mast Monday as part of the observance, McPherson said.

He said that 156 American officers died in the line of duty across the country in 2005. Fifty-five have died this year, he said.

Sheriff's Department Col. Doug Mullendore told the group that their job is unique in that they sometimes must make "split-second, life-threatening decisions, all the while laying your life on the line."

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith read a proclamation signed by Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, calling on citizens to observe National Peace Officers Memorial Day.

McPherson said at least one Washington County Sheriff's Department deputy, Thomas Hardy, was killed in the line of duty more than 100 years ago, on Oct. 10, 1905.

Maryland State Police in Hagerstown also had at least one police fatality. Lauren Ridge died July 14, 1950, State Police Lt. Gregory Johnston said.

The Hagerstown Police Department has lost at least five officers, including Kline. The Herald-Mail has reported the following:

  • Officer Murphy E. Flory was shot June 26, 1901.

  • Officer John C. Middlekauff died Aug. 17, 1914, two days after he was shot by a suspect he was pursuing.

  • Chief George W. Fridinger died Feb. 28, 1918, from injuries sustained in an accident involving his police cruiser and a railroad streetcar two days before.

  • Officer Lynwood N. Newcomer was electrocuted June 3, 1951.

  • Kline was shot Dec. 13, 1975, while off duty and trying to catch an armed robber who had just robbed Kim's Corner grocery store.

Smith said police have discovered documents indicating another Hagerstown officer was killed about 200 years ago.

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