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Originally published December 8, 2009 at 8:58 AM | Page modified December 8, 2009 at 9:20 PM

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Updates from the Lakewood Police memorial service

A memorial procession for four Lakewood Police officers is taking place today.


Four Lakewood Police officers: Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; and officers Ronald Owens, 37; Tina Griswold, 40; and Gregory Richards, 42, were slain Nov. 29 as they sat in a coffee shop preparing for their work day to begin.

A memorial procession and service took place earlier today through the city of Lakewood and at the Tacoma Dome.

Donations are being accepted for the families of the four slain officers.

4:58 p.m.

The color guard is leading the exit of the Tacoma Dome as the service comes to a close, about three hours after it began.

4:53 p.m.

A recording by a Lakewood dispatcher is playing over the loudspeaker. The dispatcher is calling out each officer by number, and announcing them "gone but not forgotten."

4:44 p.m.

Officers are folding the flags that had been draped over the caskets. Each step is performed on command and in unison. Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar is presenting the folded U.S. flags to each of the officers' families.

Gregoire is presenting state flags -- folded into triangles and displayed in wood-and-glass cases -- to the families of each of the four officers.

4:38 p.m.

An officer is ringing a 21-bell salute, rather than firing a 21-gun salute, at the families' request. The 21-bell salute is followed by Taps.

4:25 p.m.

Gregoire is presenting flags -- folded into triangles and displayed in wood-and-glass cases -- to the families of each of the four officers.

4:18 p.m.

Gov. Chris Gregoire is speaking: "Please know that we are a grateful state."

More from Gregoire, who spoke about the children of the four slain officers: "We owe all nine of them a present and a future that is safe and secure."

4:17 p.m.

Lakewood police officer Gene Sievers is singing "The Dance," made famous by Garth Brooks.

The lyrics:

Looking back on the memory of

The dance we shared beneath the stars above.

For a moment all the world was right.

How could I have known you'd ever say goodbye?

And now I'm glad I didn't know

The way it all would end, the way it all would go.

Our lives are better left to chance. I could have missed the pain

But I'd have had to miss the dance.

Holding you I held everything.

For a moment wasn't I a king?

But if I'd only known how the king would fall,

Hey who's to say, you know I might have changed it all.

And now I'm glad I didn't know

The way it all would end, the way it all would go.

Our lives are better left to chance. I could have missed the pain

But I'd have had to miss the dance.

4:09 p.m.

Tribute videos have been playing for about 20 minutes.

First were tributes showing photos of the officers, one at a time, throughout their childhoods, family lives and careers.

Those were followed by photos and video of the outpouring of community support in the past nine days.

3:48 p.m.

Greg Richards' three children -- Austin, 16, Jami-Mae, 15, and Gavin 10 -- each spoke.

"He knew that it didn't do any good to have regrets, to dwell on the things you can't change," Jami-Mae said.

She said the family had moved quite a few times, "and he always picked up lifelong friends, wherever we lived."

Austin joked that his father loved dessert and only disliked three things: disorganized drawers, mayonnaise and baggy pants.

But he mostly loved his family.

"We were always No. 1, even when he became a policeman," said Austin.

3:42 p.m.

Owens' sister spoke:

"You could never go anywhere with Ronnie without someone knowing who he was."

She remembered him hamming it up in high school, break dancing on the kitchen floor with friends and singing along to Barry Manilow.

She said his greatest joy in life was being a father, and that she knows he'll be watching his daughter's basketball games from heaven.

3:41 p.m.

Community members gather at UW-Tacoma, where the Lakewood police officer memorial was televised.

3:34 p.m.

Pamela Battersby spoke about her friend, Tina Griswold.

She was a tomboy who loved riding motorcycles and mixed martial arts, but "she had a soft side and enjoyed being a woman," Battersby said.

3:20 p.m.

A Tukwila police officer, Mike Villa, is recalling his days working with Renninger. He told of chasing a suspect they couldn't see: "We didn't need a canine, we had the man-tracker working on our crew."

And he also talked of Renninger trying to negotiate through a doorway with what he later found out was a talking parrot.

2:59 p.m.

Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar told short anecdotes about each of the officers, from Renninger asking for expensive SWAT gear to Griswold always managing to find the best parking spots to Owens's ear-to-ear grin to Richards' sly smile.

He urged the crowd to enjoy what they were about to hear about each of the officers.

There are about 60 people in the overflow viewing room set up at Pacific Lutheran University. The auditorium can hold about 500.

2:50 p.m.

About 40 people were in one of the alternate viewing rooms set up, at the University of Washington-Tacoma. The room can hold several hundred, and an organizer said they expected more people to arrive, as some were turned away from the Tacoma Dome.

2:39 p.m.

Bagpipers and drummers marched down the center aisle, followed by a color guard carrying the United States, Canadian, Washington and four other flags.

Then, an officer sang the Star Spangled Banner. And another sang the Canadian national anthem.

2:28 p.m.

Some officers are still being seated; the service will continue when everyone is inside.

2:14 p.m.

Family members are filing in, grouped by officer. More than 200 family members of the four officers are in attendance.

2:10 p.m.

The four caskets are in a crescent before a wall of flowers and wreaths at the front of the assembled crowd of thousands.

At 2 p.m., three officers, black bands covering their badges, marched up and saluted as the ceremony began. Another officer followed, then called an assembled group of several hundred officers to attention before they walked in and took their seats.

1:50 p.m.

An Air Force sergeant in his blue dress uniform stood at attention, unflinching, for the entire three hours and 15 minutes it took for the procession to file out of the Air Force base. "It was what I felt I needed to do," said Sgt. Chad Gloor, 26.

1:02 p.m.

Three hours after the procession began, and about 90 minutes after the first vehicles arrived at the Tacoma Dome, cars and trucks involved in the procession are still spilling out of the Air Force base. After the cars lined up on base have already left the gates, another three dozen waiting on a side street will join in to end the procession.

12:48 p.m.

The service in the Tacoma Dome will begin about 45 minutes late because of the huge number of vehicles in the procession.

12:45 p.m.

The program of today's memorial service (PDF).

12:13 p.m.

The officers' flag-draped caskets were removed from the four white hearses and wheeled into the Tacoma Dome.

12:10 p.m.

Hundreds lined a stretch of South Tacoma Way in the punishing cold to observe the funeral procession. Some held flags others held signs, officers saluted as cars passed, some people took photos and videos, some stood with their hands over their hearts and some stood and wept quietly. Officers touched their hands to their car windows as they passed.

"I just came to honor the police and support the families in this horrible time," said Deanna May. Asked if her boss gave her the day off to attend, she said: "I didn't ask him I told him."

Roxanne Clouse, barely able to speak without weeping, said she "wanted to be a part of this, support the ones who are here and let them know they all matter. I'm here to feel the cold for those that can't."

11:52 a.m.

Many Lakewood businesses closed for the morning so their employees could show their support.

Laura Drittenpreis was with a group from a nearby credit union who stood for more than an hour outside the Lakewood Police Station as the procession passed. She talked about the number of military families, active and retired, who live in the community and said they understand the sacrifice the police officers made. "They put their lives on the line every day," she said.

Lorn Richey, an officer with the Liquor Control Board, said so much of police work involves people who don't want to see you. "It's really nice to see so much community support. We usually only see the other side of it."

11:42 a.m.

At 11:24 a.m., the first vehicles in the procession arrived at the Tacoma Dome, where they passed under a cross made by a pair of cranes with an American flag hung between them. The first vehicles through were motorcycle officers. They were followed by bagpipers, then officers on foot and on horseback. Then came the first white hearse carrying the body of one of the slain officers. The only sounds were the bagpipers and the whir of the news helicopters above.

Hundreds of police officers in dress uniforms stood at attention just past the cranes and lined the way to the entrance to the dome.

11:30 a.m.

The procession is beginning to arrive at the Tacoma Dome, greeted by lines of officers outside. The walk into the dome was led by a group of bagpipers dressed in red.

Officers are being seated in groups, and each person walking inside is handed a small box of tissue and a bottle of water.

As cars are beginning to arrive at the Tacoma Dome, producer Tiffany Campbell says cars are still leaving McChord Air Force Base.

11:28 a.m.

The sight of the four hearses brought home the tragedy for some of the onlookers. Eileen Melberg, who works at a nearby law firm, said the sight of the flag-draped coffins made her gasp. "This isn't a picture. This is a person who should still be alive."

11:19 a.m.

Everett police officer Kelly Carmen, who has 22 years experience as police officer, said as soon as she heard about the shootings she knew she'd want to attend today's memorial service.

"You obviously have to honor the sacrifice these officers and their families have made," said Carmen, 49.

One of more than 50 Everett officers at the event, she said that several times since the shootings strangers have approached while she was working just to thank her for the job she's doing and show their respect for police officers.

"It's very meaningful. Unfortunately we don't get that a lot," Carmen said.

11:14 a.m.

Seattle Times photographer Cliff Despeaux sends this image from the memorial procession.

10:56 a.m.

The four Lakewood police cars that started the procession were followed by four white hearses, each bearing the body of one of the fallen officers.

10:51 a.m.

KOMO NewsRadio reporter Travis Mayfield has this photo with the caption, "Three flags, half staff outside Tacoma dome (choked me up)."

He has also taken this photo of the program from the memorial service.

10:50 a.m.

The procession continues along South Tacoma Way.

10:43 a.m.

Ron and Una Ripley of Lakewood stood in front the town's police station holding an American flag. They have two sons, one in the Coast Guard and one in the Army.

"These are people in uniform. They're serving our country. They're someone's sons, fathers and wives," said Una Ripley of the four officers. "It just breaks our hearts."

10:35 a.m.

Several hundred people gathered outside the Lakewood police station this morning to pay their respects to the fallen officers and their families. The University Place Fire Department erected crossed fire ladders from which hung a large American flag. The families of the fallen officers gathered for breakfast at the police station and then climbed into limousines; the plan is for the limousines carrying the families to join the procession to the Tacoma Dome.

Josh Warner, a military police officer from Fort Lewis, said he used to have coffee with Renninger and Owens. He said they were both great guys. He said Owens responded in June to a domestic-violence call involving one of Warner's friend's mothers. Owens spent four hours with her and filled out the paperwork for her.

"He was the kind of officer who would go above and beyond," said Warner. He said Renninger would ask Warner when he would quit "messing around" in the army and become a real cop. "They will be missed very much."

The procession from the Lakewood police station was led by four Lakewood police cars, each with a black band over the front door in memory of one of the fallen officers.

Thousands of uniformed officers are gathered at the entrance to Tacoma Dome. Snipers in camouflage are on the roof and heavily armed SWAT team members are walking the perimeter.

10:30 a.m.

People are lining the streets along the procession route.

10:14 a.m.

At 10:05 this morning under a bright, sunny sky and in bitter cold temperatures, two Washington State Patrol motorcycle officers led the procession out of McChord Air Force Base out onto South Tacoma Way.

9:59 a.m.

Across the street from the McChord gate where the procession will start, Jerome Wahl, 33, sat with a table of coffee and cookies for officers and a 4-foot sign reading "Comfort Design supports the Lakewood Police Department and their families."

"I live in the area; I do all my shopping in Lakewood," said Wahl, service manager for the window and door company across the street. "We appreciate the police department in everything they do and we are deeply saddened by this tragedy that happened right here in our back yard."

9:50 a.m.

Vehicles are being diverted from McChord Air Force Base as they have reached capacity, says producer Tiffany Campbell. At last count, there were 1,982 vehicles.

By 9:30 a.m. the number of law enforcement vehicles arriving at McChord reached the limit of what officials decided the procession could hold, which was several thousand. Additional units continued to arrive and they were being sent to the Tacoma Mall and Cheney Stadium, where officers could board shuttles to the Tacoma Dome. More than 260 agencies have checked in to be a part of the procession.

9:48 a.m.

West Seattle Blog has posted a small listing of various fundraisers for the Lakewood officers' families.

9:21 a.m.

Pierce County this morning released this list of 152 police departments, sheriff's offices, fire departments and other emergency agencies participating in this morning's motorcade from McChord Air Force Base to the Tacoma Dome.

9:09 a.m.

By 9 a.m. the bulk of the thousands of expected law enforcement and emergency vehicles had entered the north gate of McChord Air Force Base, although officials said smaller convoys of vehicles were still on their way up and down Interstate 5. All vehicles are expected to be in place by 9:30 to be arranged for the 10 a.m. start of the procession. The procession will travel at 5 mph for the two miles from the base to the Lakewood Police Station, where it will be joined by a large contingent of Lakewood police cars and the families of the slain officers, and then proceed at 10 mph towards the Tacoma Dome.

9:05 a.m.

The following is different information from a previous press release from Pierce County's Department of Emergency Managment.

One additional remote site is set up for watching the Lakewood Officers Memorial and processional on Tuesday. The processional will begin at 10 a.m. and the memorial service is set to start at 1 p.m. All will have live video feed.

University of Washington Tacoma, William Philips Hall, 1914 Pacific Ave., Tacoma -- Opens at 9 a.m.

This is in addition to the two previous remote sites:

Pacific Lutheran University, Olson Auditorium -- Opens at 9 a.m.

Parking is at the Church of All Nations, 111 112th St. E. in Parkland. Shuttles will transport to the auditorium beginning at 9:30 a.m. to the beginning of the memorial ceremony at 1 p.m.

Christian Faith Center, 33645 20th Ave. S., Federal Way -- Opens at 9 a.m

8:53 a.m.

By 8:30 a.m., the first of what's expected to be a 100-car contingent from King County emergency agencies began arriving at the north entrance of McChord Air Force Base. Police came from as far away as Bozeman, Montana, Langley, B.C., and every corner of Washington State. More than 200 police units were backed up waiting to get into the McChord gate.

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