Squad Partner Remembers Four Slain Brothers
Source: Associated Press
The Seattle Times via YellowBrix
November 29, 2010
LAKEWOOD, Wash. — The four stars tattooed on Dave Crommes’ left forearm are in memory of his slain colleagues.
A photo of officer Ronald Owens is taped to the center console of Crommes’ Lakewood police car. It reminds him of the partner and close friend he lost a year ago.
“It’s been a struggle, obviously,” said Crommes, 39 and a sergeant in the department. “Some days are worse than others.”
The police department and the city are marking the anniversary of the deaths of Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Greg Richards, Tina Griswold and Owens by dedicating a new memorial to them at the department’s headquarters and by collecting donations for a food drive.
Crommes was on the same squad with Owens, Renninger and Richards. Usually he would have been with them at the start of their shifts Nov. 29, 2009, while they got coffee and something to eat at the Forza coffee shop at 11401 S. Steele St. in Parkland.
But he took the day off as he always does to celebrate his birthday.
“It’s an annual thing my wife and I do,” said Crommes, who is married and has three children.
Griswold worked the shift instead and died with the others when Maurice Clemmons opened fire in the worst single attack on law enforcement officers in Washington state history.
In a recent interview, Crommes didn’t want to talk about what he was doing on that Sunday. Instead, he wanted to focus on the loss of his colleagues.
“They were great officers, great people,” he said.
Crommes and Renninger had worked together for 14 years. Both had been officers with the Tukwila Police Department. When the Lakewood department took shape in 2004, both applied. Crommes said it was a good opportunity to be closer to home and part of an agency from the beginning.
On Jan. 1, 2009, the men paired up again on a seven-officer patrol squad that included Owens and Richards. Crommes also wanted to work with Owens, a close friend.
The two became partners and patrolled the city’s South End, which includes the Tillicum and Woodbrook neighborhoods. They’d stop at Owens’ house for lunch during their shifts and get together for family gatherings or to watch sporting events outside of work.
Crommes wasn’t as close to Richards and hadn’t worked much with Griswold. But they were part of a good crew, Crommes said.
“It’s good to work with people who have a good work ethic,” he said. “You enjoy going to calls with them.”
Crommes was in Seattle when he heard about what happened in the Parkland coffee shop.