Police from across Nevada gathered Thursday on the Capitol grounds as three more fallen officers’ names were added to the Peace Officers Memorial — including that of Carson City Police Officer Vernon Carvin.
Gov. Brian Sandoval said the ceremony honors “the men and women who lost their lives defending us.”
Carvin died on Nevada Day 1949 after a struggle with a violent prisoner at the jail.
His was the only line-of-duty death recorded for the Carson City Police Department, which was consolidated with the Sheriff’s Office in 1969.
Sheriff Ken Furlong said Carvin’s absence from the memorial was brought to his attention just after the memorial ceremonies a year ago by his daughter-in-law Rosalind.
He said the death was the result of the Nevada Day and Halloween celebration mixed with alcohol. Carvin, 51 at the time, has been with the department for four years, serving as the lone “night watch officer.”
“For four years, officer Carvin was the reason our residents slept in peace,” Furlong said.
During a struggle with “a drunken, belligerent Nevada Day inmate” at the city jail, Carvin was kicked in the chest. That injury set off the heart attack that killed him.
Furlong said he was amazed when told the story that Carvin had been overlooked.
The other two officers honored this year were Washoe Sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Barnes, who died of a heart attack during the mandatory physical fitness test in 1991, and Elko Deputy Denny Lawrence, who was shot in the head in 1982 but survived in assisted care until he passed away in January 2012.
Lawrence was shot by the driver of a vehicle that had been in a minor accident south of Jackpot. Elko Sheriff Jim Pitts said Lawrence was unaware the driver had committed two murders and stolen the car. Lawrence was shot to death by others at the campground where the crash occurred.
There are now 123 names of Nevada officers who have died in the line of duty on the memorial, which is between the Capitol and the Legislature. The oldest is that of Carson Territorial Sheriff John Blackburn, who was stabbed to death in 1861.
In addition, the state law enforcement officers association honored the late Sen. Bill Raggio of Reno for his long service to the state and strong support for law enforcement since his days as Washoe County district attorney.
After 12 years as DA, Raggio won election to the Nevada Senate, where he served more than 38 years, the longest service in state history.
Longtime friend and fellow Sen. Randolph Townsend said Raggio was very committed to law enforcement.
He said that commitment extended to when he “made sure the sheriffs followed (his daughter) Leslie on all her dates in high school.”
“I didn’t make that up,” he said to laughter from the crowd.
Townsend said Raggio was deeply respected.
“This was someone whose counsel was sought by everyone,” he said. “You don’t get that kind of respect unless you’ve earned it.”
The memorial to Raggio is a bronze plaque on a large bounder in front of a tree planted in his honor next to the Peace Officers Memorial. The plaque, unveiled by Raggio’s widow, Dale, quotes U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks describing Raggio: “His great ethic flowed down from the top creating a model and example for everyone.”
All were honored with a 21-gun salute by officers from seven Nevada law enforcement agencies. After the salute, children among the estimated 300 attending scampered across the quad, scooping up the expended cartridge casings from the salute.