Sher­iff’s of­fice hon­ors re­tirees, fallen of­fi­cer at cer­e­mony

‘All gave some, some gave all’

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW RICHARDSON arichard­son@somd­news.com

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.”

STAFF PHOTO BY AN­DREW RICHARDSON

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.

STAFF PHOTOS BY AN­DREW RICHARDSON

Sher­iff Troy Berry speaks to the crowd, thank­ing the men and women of the sher­iff’s of­fice for their ded­i­cated ca­reers.

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