Sheriff’s office honors retirees, fallen officer at ceremony
‘All gave some, some gave all’
Members, friends and family of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office came together on Tuesday to honor recent retirees within the agency and fallen officer Cpl. Jamel Clagett. Their names are now engraved on the memorial wall that rests outside the sheriff’s office headquarters in La Plata, a constant reminder of their dedication in serving and protecting the community.
On Dec. 22, 2014, Clagett, 30, was returning home after working a midnight shift when his car left the roadway and struck a tree. He was a 10-year decorated veteran of the sheriff’s office, and remembered for his kindness and generosity.
Many members of Clagett’s family were seated in the front row at the ceremony as Sheriff Troy Berry (D) addressed the crowd.
“I am deeply humble to be here today to acknowledge and recognize the 28 retirees whose names were recently added to this beautiful memorial,” he said, “while remembering too, the life of our fallen brother, Cpl. Jamel Clagett, whose name was also added to this sacred place.”
“… We are all here as a family — our Charles County Sheriff’s Office
family — to celebrate the work and contributions of those who are here with us physically, and those who are with us in spirit,” Berry continued. “For those who retired, we say job well done. You earned your place on the wall, and we thank you for your service … Always know you will remain a part of our family, and we are always here for you.”
“To Corporal Clagett’s family, friends, and brothers and sisters from the CCSO, I say this: Be strong and courageous, like Jamel,” he said. “Do not be discouraged when you miss him, because he is never very far. When a stranger smiles at you, that’s Jamel. When you hear someone laughing, that’s Jamel letting you know he’s there. When you’re inclined to do something nice, Jamel is around. And we know Jamel is always here, by our side, at this memorial.”
After delivering his remarks, Maj. Chris Becker read the names of the men and women who were being honored, and asked them to come forward to be recognized.
After which, an officer carried a wreath to the memorial as Berry held the hand of Mary Tinsley, Clagett’s mother, and led the family to his engraving.
“It was a very beautiful ceremony, and I am here to honor my son, carry on his legacy, and it means a lot to do so, especially with his family being with me. And it’s very hard,” Tinsley said after the ceremony. “Jamel was a very kindhearted person. He would go out of his way for anyone, even myself, his mother … he’s just a good person, someone that I was very proud of.”
“Anyone would have loved to have Jamel as a son,” she said, “but he was mine.”
“He is definitely missed, and I still miss him with all my heart,” she added.
Also in attendance was Robert Cleveland, a 30-year veteran of the sheriff’s office who retired last year as a lieutenant colonel, which is second-in-command.
“I’m very honored. It’s been a privilege for me to serve as a member of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “And for this opportunity to come back today and for them to take time out of their day and recognize the retirees and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice … I think it’s a wonderful thing. I think Sheriff Berry said it best when he said, ‘We are a family,’ and we’ve always tried to approach it from that perspective.”
“I think this agency is very professional agency,” he continued. “I think Sheriff Berry and the current members of the agency are doing a wonderful job in keeping pace with the growth of the county, but yet keeping the county a safe place, a place people want to move to, people want to live.”
Another retiree who was honored was Carl Rye, another 30-year veteran who spent 15 years as the supervisor of the school resource officer unit. During his tenure is when the sheriff’s office and the Charles County Public Schools system forged a strong relationship as officers were assigned to schools around the county.
Of his assignment with the school system he said, “It was very proactive and very positive and I think that’s why I stayed for 30 years, because I really enjoyed what I was doing.”
“It is a very positive relationship that was built over many years,” he said. “There were quarterly meetings set up between the superintendent and the sheriff. They would come in and sit down together, talk about things, what’s currently going on with the school resource officers, what’s going on in the communities, and the sharing of information between the two agencies was fantastic.”
Rye was initially assigned to Thomas Stone High School, where he first met Jamel Clagett as a student.
“He was definitely a teenager that liked to have fun,” he said. “He would come see me and joke with me and carry on. We had a great rapport. I think a lot of his interest in law enforcement came, not just from me, but because of the interaction that he had. And we had a lot of fun, we really did.”
“He was a really good human being,” Rye said. “And you have to be to be hired here with the sheriff’s office. They hire good people. And good people have fallen in line after I’ve retired and have taken care of business.”
Charles Clagett, Jamel’s grandfather, also spoke of his great character.
“I never say he was my, he is my grandson,” he said, “He went out of his way to come by my residence once a week to check on me, make sure I was doing okay. Especially this time of year it hurts, because he always came by during the fall and helped me with the firewood. I can’t stress no more than what his mother said, being so kind hearted, yet he’s by the book.”
“He loved kids, and he would really go out of his way to help anybody. It hurt all of us, you know?” he continued. “One thing I’d like to say about the Charles County Sheriff’s department, they’ve been very supportive. Haven’t many days go by when they don’t say something to his mother. We get invited to various occasions in memory of him, and that makes me feel good. It shows you that the department haven’t forgotten about him.”
“It’s still tough, not only for the Clagett family, but for the sheriff’s office family. The loss of Cpl. Clagett runs deep,” Berry told the Maryland Independent. Berry also recounted an occasion where Clagett paid out of his own pocket for a homeless person to stay in a hotel during inclement weather.
“His last act of kindness before he died, he went and bought breakfast for our dispatchers when he was getting off from the midnight shift,” Berry said. “After he brought them breakfast, he went home and unfortunately he was tragically killed in a car accident.”
“Throughout his life, you hear testimonies about the wonderful things he has done for people,” he added. “And I just want the Clagett family to know, we were very fortunate to have the opportunity for Cpl. Jamel Clagett to be in our midst, because he was sincerely a great officer, he was a great son, he was a great friend, and he is sorely missed.”
Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry walks with Mary Tinsley, the mother of fallen officer Cpl. Jamel Clagett, who was tragically killed in a car accident returning home after a midnight shift in December 2014.
The crowd applauds the retirees who were in attendance at the ceremony on Tuesday.
Members, family, and friends of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office gathered as 28 retirees and fallen officer Jamel Clagett were recognized for their service and sacrifice.
Sheriff Troy Berry speaks to the crowd, thanking the men and women of the sheriff’s office for their dedicated careers.