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One more salute for 'J.R.'

Panhandle officers honored on Law and Safety Day

Panhandle officers honored on Law and Safety Day

February 09, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH and DON AINES

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Eastern Panhandle law enforcement gathered Sunday for the second time in a week and continued to remember the late Pfc. Rodger E. "J.R." Butcher Jr., a nine-year veteran of the Martinsburg City Police Department.

Butcher's family accepted a posthumous award during the annual Law & Safety Day held at BPO Elks Lodge 778.

"I guess the Lord needed a new centurion in heaven," Police Chief Ted Anderson said.

Anderson's hand shook when he talked about his officer's 14-month battle with skin cancer. The police chief joined many others in wiping away tears when Natalie Butcher came forward for the award and learned the Elks Lodge established two $1,000 scholarships for her children.

"J.R. told me time and time again that once he did come back to work, he didn't think he could ever write another traffic ticket because of the way he was treated by this community," Anderson said.

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Anderson reminded the crowd of how schoolchildren stood outside and waved American flags solemnly as the funeral procession passed last Tuesday. Butcher served as the department's first school resource officer.

"He was perfect out there at the high school. Students looked up to him, faculty looked up to him," said Barry Subelsky, police chief in Charles Town, W.Va.

Butcher's brother-in-law, Aaron Swisher, joined his sisters, niece and nephew at the banquet, hearing offers of assistance "if you need anything at all" from several departments.

"I think he'd be honored and humbled by it," Swisher said.

Other awards were presented to Sgt. Brian L. Yost, Martinsburg Police Department; Senior Trooper J.D. Schuessler, West Virginia State Police in Berkeley County; Trooper W.R. Garrett, state police in Jefferson County; and Senior Trooper V.E. Branham, state police in Morgan County.

Also receiving awards were Trooper Clay Ellwanger, state police drug and violent crimes task force; Deputy Colleen Gibbons, Berkeley County Sheriff's Department; Cpl. Dustin C. Tabler, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department; and Deputy Wade J. Shambaugh, Morgan County Sheriff's Department.

Other awards recipients were Nevin L. Kilmer, Martinsburg Fire Department; Cpl. April Grona, Eastern Regional Jail; Officer Jason W. Newlin, Charles Town Police Department; Officer Glen L. Bivens, veterans affairs police service; Tech Sgt. Derrick Wood, 167th Airlift Wing Fire Department; and Martin D. "Marty" Roberts, Berkeley County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

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