Newport News Police honor fallen officers

Posted at 11:42 PM, May 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-07 23:42:52-04

Newport News, Va. - City officials and members of the city's police department paid tribute to 11 fallen officers in a candlelight tribute on Thursday night.

A few dozen gathered in a tent with blue lights to remember the officers. Each officer's name was read aloud and a bell chimed in his honor.

An officer hasn't died in the line of duty since 1994, but the chief says it's the city's duty to honor them each year. "We will never ever, ever forget the memory of the officers who gave their life in service to their community," said Chief Richard Myers.

In one of the most moving parts of the ceremony, a retired sergeant recalled the night of January 11, 1994, when Officer Steven Rutherford died while working undercover. He was disguised as a pizza deliveryman, but was shot and killed. "It was one of the toughest things that I've ever dealt with in my life," said Retired Sgt. Lenore Whitehead.

It's been 21 years since Rutherford's death, and Whitehead said it's still tough to talk about. She hopes his story will be eye-opening at a time of widespread mistrust of police, especially after several high profile police killings. "Most officers are good people. They want to keep their communities safe. They're dedicated to obeying the law and they're dedicated in watching over the neighborhood, " she said. "I would hope that's what people would remember."