Guest speaker Frank Brostrom, an FBI agent, came back to that point throughout the 18th annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service, which was presented last Thursday by the Robeson County Law Enforcement Association in front of the Law Enforcement building at Robeson Community College.
More than 100 people attended the event, complete with a 21-gun salute, to commemorate the lives of 14 law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty in Robeson County. The 14 officers served police departments in Red Springs, Raeford, Rowland, Lumberton, the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, state Highway Patrol and the state Division of Motor Vehicles.
Larry McNeill, president of the Robeson County Law Enforcement Association and a retired captain for the UNCP campus police, called upon all enforcement officers to do their job faithfully and serve their community with the upmost pride, honor, grace and loyalty.
“Law enforcement’s primary job is to protect life and property,” McNeill said.
Sheriff Kenneth Sealey offered statistics showing that on average there is a death of a law enforcement official every 53 hours in the United States, and there were 116 law enforcement officers killed during 2009. In addition, an average of more than 58,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted annually, which results in approximately 16,000 injuries.
Sheriff’s Detective Arthur W. Oxendine died on Oct. 1, 1993. His son, Mark Oxendine, a lawman himself, noted the importance of the annual gathering and memorial.
“It brings everyone together and reminds us of the ultimate sacrifice that could be made,” said Oxendine, a federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent who is based in Fayetteville.
He also said there is a uniting factor among all law enforcement officers, whether it’s a big city detective or a beat cop in a small town — everyone is part of the same mission “to make our communities safer to live in.”
Guest speaker Brostrom spoke of how law enforcement officers prepare to make the ultimate sacrifice every time they put on the uniform.
“They lived to make a difference. They died as they lived, defending freedom and preserving justice, a reminder that our cherished freedoms do not come without a price,” he said. “Sometimes we are more lucky than we are good.”
To demonstrate, Brostrom mentioned cases of a bank robber using a personal deposit slip with their name and address on it as the paper they use for the note they give the teller demanding money, or the criminal who accidentally drops his driver’s license at the crime scene.
Brostrom offered a small piece of consolation to the families of the fallen lawmen, suggesting they’ve earned a place in heaven.
“Sometimes, God just loves cops,” he said.
End of Watch
• On July 21, 1899, Red Springs Town Marshall Thomas Atkinson was shot and killed by the brother of a man he was attempting to arrest.
Despite being wounded, Marshal Atkinson was able to get up and again tried to subdue the suspect when the brother shot him in the chest, killing him. Both subjects then fled the scene.
The man he was originally attempting to arrest was captured in Portsmouth, Virginia, approximately three weeks later. The shooter was arrested in Concord, North Carolina, one month after the incident.
• Chief P.C. Oaks- August 31, 1912 Raeford Police Department
• Deputy J.A. Kithin- July 2, 1920 Robeson County Sheriff’s Office
• Chief Marion Rogers- December 26, 1925 Rowland Police Department— Chief Robert Casey Jones- July 1928 Rowland Police Department
• Chief Vance McGill- November 18, 1936 Lumberton Police Department
• Patrolman Albert M. Howell- September 14, 1940Raeford Police Department
• Deputy William T. Nye- January 5, 1949 Robeson County Sheriff’s Office
•Trooper James Mashburn- September 10, 1964 NC State Highway Patrol- Troop “B” -District 7
• Officer Robert J. Furmage Jr.- January 20, 1970 NC Division of Motor Vehicles
• Trooper Larry T. Walton- December 2, 1972 NC State Highway Patrol- Troop “B”- District 7
• Det. Arthur W. Oxendine- October 1, 1993 Robeson County Sheriff’s Office
• Deputy William McCormick- November 21, 1998 Robeson County Sheriff’s Office
• Capt. Robbie E. Bishop- January 20, 1999 Robeson County Sheriff’s Office