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Honoring a Selfless Servant

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By James Hohmann and Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 3, 2008

He was a cop's cop, steely enough to be assigned to an elite enforcement squad, yet compassionate enough to spend $1,500 of his own money to buy an air-conditioning and heating system for a needy family he hardly knew.

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Cpl. Richard Scott Findley, 39, was the boy who grew up playing flashlight tag, kickball and marbles in the streets of his Calverton neighborhood in northern Prince George's County. He was the jokester who joined the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department at 19 and often had his fellow firefighters in stitches, even on 3 a.m. calls.

Many of those firefighters attended a viewing at a Beltsville funeral home yesterday for Findley, a county police officer who was slain in the line of duty last week. The viewing drew about 3,000 people, officers said. Some wept as they waited for more than two hours to pay their respects at Findley's closed coffin.

In the funeral home, roses, lilies and other flowers lined the walls, mourners said. Findley's widow, Kelly, also a Beltsville fire department volunteer, stood near a family portrait.

Mourners will gather again today for Findley's funeral, at which he will be remembered as a selfless servant and devoted family man.

Tobi Suarez, a property manager at a Laurel townhouse community, attended the viewing.

"This explains it all," said Suarez, pointing at the slow-moving lines of people. "He was just an outstanding human being. A real fine guy."

Findley died June 27 in Laurel when he was run down by what police described as two men driving a stolen pickup truck. Ronnie L. White, the 19-year-old charged with driving the truck, was found dead in his jail cell Sunday. His death was ruled a homicide, and federal and state officials are investigating.

At the funeral home yesterday, County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) met with Findley's widow.

"He gave all his time to Prince George's County and actually gave his life to Prince George's County," Johnson said afterward.

Two weeks before he died, Findley carried out a drug bust that netted more than 400 grams of marijuana worth more than $8,000, said his supervisor, Lt. Eric Wooleyhand. Findley was so excited that at 2 a.m., he sent Wooleyhand a cellphone picture of himself holding the contraband.

"You couldn't ask for a better employee or a better police officer," Wooleyhand said, displaying the picture.


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