Thursday, September 07, 2000

Hundreds pay respects to slain officer

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Cincinnati Police Officer Jeanette Whitfield wipes away tears as she walks toward the funeral home for the memorial service.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        FOREST PARK — Some knew him; many didn't. Yet hundreds of men and women in blue snaked through a funeral home for hours Wednesday to pay their respects to Cincinnati Officer Kevin Crayon.

        They pinned blue ribbons on their lapels to remind them of him and of the way he died — doing police work. They laid white carnations on his casket. They prayed he will now be watched over by God.

        A steady stream of ordinary citizens crowded the funeral home from noon until 6 p.m. Wednesday, giving way at 6 p.m. to the special Fraternal Order of Police service. A second visitation and funeral service will be today. (Details)

        Officer Crayon died in a Mount Airy intersection early Friday after being dragged by a car. He apparently reached in the driver's window and tried to take the keys away from the 12-year-old driver when the boy backed the car up and started dragging him down Colerain Avenue.

        Just before he fell off the car to his death, Officer Crayon drew his gun and fired one shot into Courtney Mathis' chest. The boy died four hours later.

        That was almost a week ago, yet the whole thing was just beginning to sink in Wednesday evening for some.

        Officer Joseph Grady struggled to find words that adequately described how he felt as he stood outside preparing to file past his friend. They worked the “power shift” in District 5 together, 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. That's the extra layer of officers added to cover Cincinnati's streets when they're the busiest and most dangerous.

        “You get accustomed to seeing somebody,” Officer Grady said. “Even if they're off sometimes, you still see them. You get used to that.

        “He won't be at roll call anymore.”

[photo] Jeff Lautenslager sandblasts the name of Officer Kevin Crayon onto the Cincinnati Police Memorial.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        Officers from as far away as Pittsburgh and Connecticut joined the sea of uniforms that converged on the Hall-Jordan & Thompson Funeral Home in Forest Park for the special Fraternal Order of Police service. More are expected to come today from long distances. The extra two-hour visitation before this morning's funeral is designed so they can pay their respects after arriving in town.

        Their cruisers will be part of what is expected to be a formal police procession that might stretch even longer than the 2 1/2 miles between Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church and Oak Hills Cemetery.

        “Great guy,” Officer Joehonny Reese said of Officer Crayon. “He always had something nice to say. We all wear the uniform and we wear it proudly. But his individuality really shined through.”

[photo] Police officers leaving the visitation for Officer Kevin Crayon leave their shadows Wednesday evening on the wall of the Hall-Jordan & Thompson Funeral Home in Forest Park.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        Officers who had to stay on Cincinnati's streets and miss the FOP service could listen to it on their police radios as they worked.

        Personal friends paid their respects Wednesday too. Vanessa Burch was among them. She brought a scrapbook of pictures dating back to her time at Forest Park High School with “then just Kevin Crayon, not Officer Crayon.” He was the first boy she ever had a crush on.

        “I think God just wanted me to tell him goodbye,” she said.

        Earlier in the day, Officer Crayon's name was permanently listed among the Cincinnati officers who lost their lives at work. His name was sandblasted into the black granite police memorial on Ezzard Charles Drive.

        In a little more than five minutes, “2000 — Police Officer Kevin C. Crayon” showed up in white under the names Ronald Jeter and Daniel Pope, two Cincinnati officers who died in 1997.

        Artist Jeff Lautenslager took off his protective hood, glasses and coat and inspected the new lettering. Usually working on monuments and in cemeteries, he paid special attention to this very public job. Three people proofread the spelling on the rubber stencil.

        “This is definitely something you don't want to get wrong,” he said. “This place is important to a lot of people.”

Express condolences; complete coverage at
Visitation held for 12-year-old
Funeral details
Grieving for a policeman

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