A silent prayer for slain officer Robert Remington and a stirring rendition of the song "Memories" by a rookie officer set a solemn tone last week for a ceremony marking promotions to ranks ranging from sergeant to deputy chief for 39 members of the D.C. police force.
"You can't appreciate the sunshine unless you have some rain in your life. Two Fridays ago, we had some rain in our lives when we attended the funeral of fellow officer Robert Remington," said newly promoted Deputy Chief Jimmy L. Wilson, bowing his head to lead a capacity crowd at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services auditorium in a silent prayer.
Remington, who had spent 18 years with the force, was shot five times with his gun May 19 after he responded to a burglar alarm at a Georgetown clothing store. He was the 99th D.C. police officer slain in the line of duty since the department was formed in 1861.
As the prayer ended, Wilson said, "Now, we can enjoy the sunshine." And the solemnity gave way to celebration among the promoted officers and their families, friends and coworkers.
Loud applause and frequent cheers punctuated the morning ceremony as 29 officers accepted their sergeant's stripes, four their lieutenant's bar, two their captain's bars, two their inspector's star-studded shields and two their deputy chief's eagle-topped shields.
Promotions for sergeants, lieutenants and captains are earned through competitive tests. Ranks higher than captain are exempt from tests and are made at the discretion of the police chief.
Speakers including Wilson and Chief Maurice T. Turner Jr. underscored a rededication of efforts to curb crime. Their most pressing goal, they said, is to strengthen the police and citizen partnership against crime and to weed out drugs, which play a role in roughly 60 percent of crimes in the city.
"We have taken our battle to the streets and we are winning," Wilson said, pointing to the department's popular antidrug project "Operation Clean Sweep," which in the past nine months has resulted in 18,000 arrests. "Together we will push drug dealers to the end of the earth and then we will push them over."
In his new rank as deputy chief, Wilson, a former head of the department's internal affairs division and homicide squads with 19 years on the force, will command the 6th District, bordered by Pennsylvania Avenue SE, the Anacostia River and the District line.
Also promoted to deputy chief was Sammie D. Morrison, a 19-year member of the force who will continue as director of the office of finance and management.
Daniel E. Keller, a 22-year veteran, and Melvin L. Clarke, a 19-year veteran, were promoted to inspector. Keller, who was assigned to Turner's office, will head the department's labor relations division. Clarke, who was assigned to the special operations division, will join the field operations bureau.
The other promotions were:
Captain:Collin L. Younger and Gilbert I. Bussey. Lieutenant:Stanley E. Wigenton, William R. Ponton, Jerry E. Smith and Ruperte H. Hamilton. Sergeant:Peter D. Banks, Melanye V. Chisholm, Dorothy Kelly-O'Buba, Terehann C. Tompkins, Neil M. Cronin, Jesse Villarreal, Thurman J. Dade, Michael J. Vaccaro, Robert J. Tupa, Stephen J. Porreco, Curtis L. Braxton, Ronald Hill, Ricardo J. Chen, Nathan Smith Jr., Kevin P. Keegan, Michael K. Willis, Gregory Wells, Mark E. Beach, Ernest T. Cole, Julia A. Mitchell, Paul E. Jordan, James R. Byrd, Kay O. Etheredge, Charles W. Wilson, Sherwin D. Bigelow, Thomas E. Kormis Jr., Joseph S. Grabania, Yvonne P. Tracey and Larry P. Scott.