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Lakewood Police Department Honors 9/11 Victims With Special Patch on Right Shoulder

The patch is a picture a Bald Eagle on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other with a U.S. flag in the background.

In remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Lakewood Police Department had a special patch sewn onto their uniforms.

Reading "A Decade of Remembrance 2001 9/11 2011 Never Forget," the patch has a Bald Eagle on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other with a United States of America flag in the background.

The department, like many others across the country, now is ready for anything. Lakewood Police Lt. Chris Lawler said there are distinct parallels between the 9/11 and the shooting of four Lakewood police officers two years ago. 

"It's more along the lines of anything can happen," Lawler said. "It's talking about vigilance. Things have changed. It teaches you to be ready for anything."

Four officers -- Officer Tina Griswold, Officer Ronald Owens, Officer Greg Richards and Sgt. Mark Renninger -- died on Nov. 29, 2009 in an ambush shooting at the Forza coffee shop just outside of Lakewood in unincorporated Pierce County. The deaths shook the department and the community and left officials searching for answers to explain how a lone murderous gunman could kill four armed officers in a public place and escape. He was later killed by police.

As a solid reminder to themselves and others who see them in public, each officer wears the 9/11 patch on their right shoulder. It was Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar's decision to have it done.

"I think what we all got with the significant anniversary of it being 10 years, obviously we'll never forget it and it seemed timely to remember 10 years has gone by," Lawler said. "We should never try to forget what happened on that day. I think its easy for people to not think about it as much any more. It helps remind the community."

Both tragedies struck the Department, subsequently changing their jobs. Officers on duty are now more aware of their roles when in the field. They receive training for what to look for.

What was once a routine suspicious person walking near a railroad tracks used to be a normal, up-to-no-good situation. But now, as a result of 9/11, Lawler said the mindset is that it might be a person thinking about committing an act of terrorism.

Lakewood has several different railroad tracks that run through the city. Sound Transit rail service expects to begin service by summer of 2012 and an Amtrak project has the possibility of running their trains through the Tillicum neighborhood.

Lawler said they expect to wear the 9/11 patches at least through the anniversary and potentially until the end of the year. But the idea of thwarting an act of terrorism will always remain in the minds of the Lakewood Police and other police jurisdictions around the country.

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