SAVANNAH, GA (October 27, 2011): Twenty-one Metro police officers in training, dozens of other officers and a host of volunteers will honor a fallen comrade Nov. 3 with the third quarterly Run to Remember as a tribute to Officer Willie Samuel Smith. The following day the recruits will be pinned as officers in the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.
The run and pinning ceremony culminate 19 weeks of training for the recruits, including 11 weeks at the Georgia Public Training Center-Garden City. Then they will begin 10 weeks of supervised patrol with a veteran officer before patrolling the jurisdiction on their own.
The run begins Thursday at 10 a.m. at Daffin Park and terminates at Cedar Street and Delesseps Avenue where Smith was killed March 11, 1994. There, a memorial service will be held and a wreath laid by the recruits in his honor.
The pinning ceremony begins at Friday 3 p.m. in the Savannah Civic Center. Savannah businessman Mark Dana will provide the keynote address.
Smith, the Savannah Police Department Rookie of the Year in 1993, was a 23-year-old National Guard veteran when he was killed. He was run over by a fleeing suspect near his police car on Delessups Avenue, making him the latest of 57 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in Chatham County.
Smith had blocked the street with his patrol car to stop the fleeing suspect’s car and had moved away in case the suspect rammed it. Instead, the suspect turned away from the car and struck Smith, carrying him 200 feet.
He left , among others, a wife, Marie, a 9-month-old daughter, Mari, and an identical twin brother. All three are expected to attend the ceremony.
“The Run To Remember is a newly added tradition for each graduating class to honor officers who have fallen in the line of duty and to reinforce to our new and existing officers how dangerous this profession can be,” said SCMPD Training Director Gary Taylor. “In our first two Runs To Remember we had dozens of our officers, officers from other departments and even members of the public join us. We expect as many on this run as well.” Members of the family of Officer Mark MacPhail, who was shot to death in 1998 and was honored in the last Run to Remember, also said they would join the tribute to Officer Smith.
Both the run and the pinning ceremony are open to the public. Runners will begin staging at 9 a.m. Thursday in the north end of Daffin Park at Victory Drive and Bee Road.
Those wishing to participate can contact Training Director Gary Taylor at 658-6335 or Officer Aaron Washington at 667-1830, or simply show up at the park.
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