Forever heroes: Police memorial honors nine officers lost in line of duty
Nearly three decades after 8-year-old Monique Tatum last saw her father, she attended the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on the Legislative grounds in his honor Thursday.
Sgt. Vincent Tatum, a corrections officer at Southern Nevada Correctional Center, disappeared in August 1982. His body was found a month later in the desert with four gunshots to the head.
It’s believed the 26-year-old married father was killed in connection with an investigation he was conducting at the prison. His killer has never been found.
Monique attended the ceremony with her mother, Vicki Tatum, her uncle and cousin.
“I feel that I can finally get closure on this. I feel he’s finally getting the honor that he deserves,” said Tatum’s widow, Vicki. “He was a good man and he was doing what he knew in his heart to do.
“I just feel, finally, thankful and grateful that his name will be here.”
The Tatum family joined eight other families in a first for the Silver State – the adding of nine names to the fallen officer memorial.
Among those families was Anne Beitel. Her son, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Milburn Beitel III, 30, was killed Oct. 8, 2009, in a car accident while responding to an emergency call.
Anne Beitel came from San Antonio, Texas and will attend the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., on May 15.
“He just loved being a police officer. It was the essence of who he was,” she said of her son. “Even on his days off he would say, ‘Mom, I get bored on my days off. I’d rather be out there putting bad guys away.'”
Beitel’s death was the second in a deadly year for law enforcement in Southern Nevada. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department lost four active officers, noted retired Henderson Police Chief Mike Mayberry.
“I must tell you that this has been a year that most of us in law enforcement will never forget. We lost more officers in the line of duty this year that I can ever remember happening in the state of Nevada,” said the 30-year veteran. “While our hearts go out to everyone today, we save a special place for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police. This is a year we hope and pray no other agency in Nevada will ever had to endure again.”
Other Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers also lost in the line of duty were:
• Officer James Manor, killed May 7, 2009, in a car accident while responding to an emergency call.
• Trevor Nettleton, 30, shot and killed in his garage Nov. 19 when confronted by robbery suspects. He returned fire and wounded one of the suspects. All three were apprehended.
• Correctional Officer Daniel Leach, 49, killed Nov. 21 as the result of an accident while driving a prisoner transport van.
One name notably missing from the memorial was that of Nye County Sheriff’s Deputy Ian Deutch, 27, who was gunned down April 26 when he responded to a domestic dispute in Pahrump. Because Deutch’s death came so close to the memorial, organizers were unable to have his name added in time, said Adams. His family will be invited to next year’s ceremony when his name too will be inscribed in the granite memorial, said Mayberry, who asked for a moment of silence for Deutch.
Also honored Thursday were:
• U.S. Department of Justice Special Deputy Marshal Stanley Cooper, 72, shot and killed Jan. 4, 2010 in the lobby of the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas. The suspect was killed in the ensuing gunfight.
• Nevada Division of Investigations and Narcotics Agent Ron Haskell, who was severely beaten by four suspects in 1969. He died Jan. 4, 1975, from lingering injuries.
• Storey County Deputy Hugh J. Gallagher, 67, died of a heart attack April 30, 1948, while responding to a prowler call.
• Southern Pacific Railroad Police Officer Eveleigh Bates died in 1924 while guarding a train in Huxley, Nev., when he fell between the cars.
Dozens of law enforcement officers from across the state participated in the hour-long service full of symbolism and tradition – from bagpipes to Taps to a rifle volley.
“Officer down is the most terrifying phrase we can hear in our community. It signifies the ultimate sacrifice made by an individual,” said keynote speaker, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. “Members of the law enforcement community day after day put themselves in harm’s way to make our communities safe. It is a unique individual who willingly walks out the door every day and faces potential life-threatening situations in order to protect people he or she may or may not know.
“Today, rather than mourn the loss of another brave officer, we can look upon these memorial names to give thanks and appreciation to them for giving us hope.”
“To all our men and women in uniform, thank you,” said Gov. Jim Gibbons. “We are all grateful for being here because of the acts of bravery and courage that each one of these men and women demonstrate each and every day. (The memorial) stands in silence but speaks volumes, loudly and clearly, as to the heroic efforts of law enforcement. We as a people … are grateful to each and every one of you. We extend our hearts and our hands and we wish you Godspeed every day.”