As they do each year, members of the Lakewood Police Department gathered outside a Parkland coffee shop Thursday at a memorial for four of its officers.
This year marked the ninth anniversary of when Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens and Greg Richards were ambushed by a gunman while they gathered inside Forza Coffee Co. before their shifts Nov. 29, 2009.
“We come here and have a cup of coffee and just be together and remember our officers,” Police Chief Mike Zaro told The News Tribune outside the shop at 11401 S. Steele St., which now is called Blue Steele Coffee.
This year about 70 people gathered to honor the officers and to watch the raising of new flags to replace worn ones at the memorial, which was spruced up in the previous days by a local service group.
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The concrete had been powerwashed. New bark and gravel had been spread, weeds pulled and flower bushes pruned.
Members of the Knights of Columbus Council 6806 recently took responsibility for maintaining the memorial site after they read a News Tribune editorial that said it needed some TLC.
The Knights said it took about a dozen volunteers, three yards of bark and a half yard of gravel to get the job done. They started the work Friday and finished Tuesday, in preparation for Thursday’s ceremony.
“We made a commitment that financially and physically we will maintain this year round to make it look good and make sure it stays this way for these fallen officers,” Louie Fraire, a council leader called the Faithful Navigator, told The News Tribune.
A veterans organization, AMVETS Post 1, has taken charge of providing replacement flags for the site.
On Thursday, its members took the memorial’s worn American flag, which will be retired as part of local Eagle Scout training.
Chief Zaro started the memorial ceremony by acknowledging those gathered, including two of Richards’ children, and leading a moment of silence at 8:14.
The shooting was first reported at 8:15 that Sunday morning.
Thirteen days after the tragedy, Forza reopened at 8:14 a.m., and then-Chief Bret Farrar was the first to place an order.
After Thursday’s moment of silence, the Lakewood police honor guard raised a new American flag, and three Lakewood sergeants raised the Police Department’s flag. The Knights of Columbus raised a Washington state flag, and AMVETS raised a POW flag.
A Pierce County Sheriff’s Department flag is being made to replace the one that has flown at the memorial, spokesman Ed Troyer said. The new flag will be “industrial strength,” he said.
In addition to the ceremony, the community marked the day with the Ninth Annual Fallen Officer Food Drive, scheduled outside the Lakewood police station at 9401 Lakewood Drive SW from 6 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
For the second year, there was a blood drive at the station with Bloodworks Northwest, Zaro said.
The event has raised $172,776 and 150,549 pounds of food for the Emergency Food Network in eight years.
The goal is to reach $185,000 and 160,000 pounds this year, Zaro said.
“We do try to honor their memory,” the chief said of the officers, “and just remember them.”