Tuesday, January 6, 1998
Officer's family grieves at river

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Lisa Partin touches a wreath Monday on the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge in honor of her husband.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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COVINGTON, Ky. - As divers continued Monday to scour the Ohio River for the body of a Covington police officer, Greater Cincinnati got a glimpse of the depth of his family's grief - his wife of eight months came to the river to see where her husband disappeared.

Lisa Partin could barely muster the strength to make it to the river's edge, but she wanted to see the efforts being made to find the body of her husband, Mike. He was helping another officer chase a suspect early Sunday when he fell through a gap along the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge and fell about 90 feet to the water below.

''She just wanted to see what was transpiring here, what was being done on behalf of her husband,'' said Assistant Chief Lt. Col. Bill Dorsey, who helped escort Mrs. Partin. ''I think she was satisfied that we're doing everything we can.''

The search was called off overnight and resumed at dawn today.

Late Monday afternoon, Mrs. Partin joined more than 100 officers and officials as they walked to the spot on the bridge where her husband fell. They hung a wreath on the outer railing as search boats circled below. Cincinnati police officers guarded the bridge during the 20-minute ceremony, blocking all cars from entering.

Covington Officer Pat Noll stands in silent vigil at the spot when Officer Partin fell to his death.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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Officer Partin was the third Greater Cincinnati officer to die in 30 days, after the Dec. 5 shootings of Cincinnati policemen Ronald Jeter and Daniel Pope. Officer Partin's death was the first in the Covington department in almost 30 years and the ninth since 1869.

He fell shortly after 2:30 a.m., apparently not aware there was a break almost 3 feet wide between where he parked his cruiser and the walkway to which he tried to jump. He responded to the bridge at the request of Kenton County Police Officer Brian Kane, who radioed for help after a man he stopped for a traffic violation, Shawnta Robertson, ran from him.

Efforts to find Officer Partin were stepped up considerably Monday afternoon with the arrival of 16 divers from Hamilton County Task Force One, a joint operation of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department and the Hamilton and Clermont county sheriff's departments.

The divers entered the cold, debris-filled Ohio River in a spot near a pier where sonar and trained dogs had indicated the officer's body might be.

The spot had been determined Sunday, but retrieval was made difficult by debris on the river floor, the swift current and small whirlpools around the pier.

Mrs. Partin placed a picture frame with a handwritten note to her husband at the Northern Kentucky Police Memorial. It read: "Michael, my heart is so broken for you. You got this at Christmas (our first Christmas). I know you love this. I love you, Lisa." She also wrote their wedding date: April 26, 1997.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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In the initial hours after Officer Partin's fall, representatives from police departments across the Tristate pledged the same kind of support offered to Cincinnati in the aftermath of the double shooting last month. By Monday morning, that outpouring became evident.

Flower arrangements were piling up at the Northern Kentucky Police Memorial. Carnations and roses from the Ludlow department. Fresh bouquets from two probation and parole officers. Yellow mums from the Elsmere department in the shape of a badge. Notes from police officers. And notes from people Officer Partin never knew.

The officer's family was deluged with support, too - from flowers to cakes and messages, Lt. Col. Dorsey said. Anyone who wants to contribute to a fund for the family can do so through any Star Bank branch.

As search crews got closer to providing closure for Officer Partin's family, Mr. Robertson, the 20-year-old Cincinnati man the officer was rushing to help arrest, was in deeper trouble.

He is on probation for a 1996 conviction in Hamilton County for corruption of a minor. Mr. Robertson is now wanted by authorities there because his arrest Sunday could constitute a violation of that probation. In addition to the Kenton County charges of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana, he faces arrest on the Hamilton County warrant.

Support built through the day Monday for even more charges against Mr. Robertson because of the officer's death. Though Commonwealth Attorney Don Buring said he did not think any felony charges were likely, many officers urged it.

Officer Partin's colleagues think ''the person that started all this bears the responsibility of what happened,'' Lt. Col. Dorsey said.

teddy bear
A teddy bear with a hand-written note was left at the Northern Kentucky Police Memorial.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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That sentiment was repeated at the Northern Kentucky Police Memorial, in the yoke of the Roebling Suspension Bridge, in a handwritten note pinned to a white teddy bear. ''Officer Mike,'' it read, ''may God bless your courageous heart. May the criminal who caused this police chase be justly and severely punished.''

Mr. Robertson's arraignment in Kenton County is set for Thursday. He posted $500 bond and was released from jail hours after his arrest on the bridge.

Officer Partin, a 1990 graduate of Glen Este High School, started two years for the school's football team, making All Queen City Conference his senior year at defensive end. He led the team in sacks and was second in tackles. He was also a member of the National Honor Society, said his coach, Dennis Ashworth, who lives in Boone County.

Sorrow for the Partin family continued to spread through the Tristate police community, reminding every officer of the dangers of the job.

''Officers do stuff like this every single day,'' said Lt. Mike Ward of the Crescent Springs Police Department. ''We preach, 'Take it easy, you can't do any good unless you get there in one piece.'

''But we all take chances that we shouldn't. That's just the nature of this business.''

Today's report

Bridge gap has a purpose
Borgman cartoon
Police keep taking risks for our sake Karen Samples column

Monday's report

Search fails to find officer
Tristate police suffer another blow
Rookie looked, acted like vet