Nov. 3, 2015 • Community remembers officers’ sacrifices

Community leaders, members, Lassen Family Services and law enforcement gathered together to honor the men and women who have lost their lives in the line of duty and to raise awareness of the crime of domestic violence.

Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growon and Susanville Police
Chief Tom Downing place wreaths to honor fallen law enforcement officers.

The wreath dedication ceremony held Thursday, Oct. 29, honored all law enforcement officers who have lost their lives on and off-duty.

Susanville Police Department Chief Tom Downing spoke remembering the kind and giving nature of past police officer Robert McElrath, who was a victim of domestic violence and died in January 2011.

“Yes, his death was a very tragic event,” said Downing “But his life was a blessing, and it was a gift to all those who met him.”

Downing went on to remember how McElrath would also volunteer for his community and said he was always quick to give a smile.

“One single act of domestic violence disrupted all those relationships,” he said, noting how he was a father, son, brother and police officer.

Additionally, Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growdon honored two fallen sheriff’s deputies — Larry Griffith, who was killed responding to a domestic violence call in Ravendale in 1995, and Raymond Bogart, who was killed while placing a prisoner into a cell in 1915.

Growdon emotionally mentioned how 2015 was the 20-year anniversary of Griffith’s death and the 100-year anniversary for Bogart.

Growdon also shared some of Griffith’s history of how he came to be a deputy with the sheriff’s office, noting his willingness to help people.

“Out of a strong desire to help people, and he lost his life trying to protect a victim,” said Growdon. “We need to remember the sacrifice he made on behalf of his community.”

Both Downing and Growdon commented on how community support helps during this time for law enforcement.

“Law enforcement is a very tough profession, especially with public scrutiny at an all-time high,” said Downing.

Additionally at the event, members from Lassen Family Services shared statistics.

Lassen Family Services executive director Becky Brewster claimed 133 officers in the United States lost their lives in the line of duty in 2014, and about 12.7 million men and women were abused, stalked or raped in a year.

She calculated that’s about 24 every minute.

“That’s someone you know,” Brewster said.  “We as a community can stand together … and make a difference.

“Join us in speaking out. Not just in October (when it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month) but all year long,” said Downing, who also said if the community is going to make a difference, they must speak out against the horrific crime.

Brewster also made sure to let attendees to know Lassen Family Services has a 24-hour crisis line, at 257-5004 or (888) 289-5004.

“I’m happy we as a community are coming together to fight this,” said Growdon.

During the event, Jennifer McElrath-Head, Robert McElraths sister performed “Amazing Grace,” and Heather Roney from Lassen Family Services shared a poem, “The Sacrifice.”

“Domestic violence is a plague that needs to be eradicated from our community,” said Roney.

Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growdon and Susanville Police Chief Tom Downing dedicate wreaths to deputy Larry Griffith and officer Robert McElrath at the Wreath Dedication Ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 29.