Friday, June 15, 2001

Hundreds of police mourn fellow officer

Forest Park says goodbye to man who inspired

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

[photo] Charles McDonald Jr., 11, son of Forest Park police Officer Charles McDonald, receives a flag from Forest Park Police Chief Col. Ken Hughes.
(Ernest Coleman photos)
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        FOREST PARK — Charles McDonald rode to his grave Thursday amid a sea of flashing red and blue lights and in the company of several hundred police officers who shared a bond with a man most of them had never met.

        The trip to Spring Grove Cemetery followed a two-hour service at Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church during which he was remembered as a fun-loving brother and son, a supportive father and a proud Forest Park police officer. He was 35.

        A six-year veteran of the Forest Park department, Officer McDonald died Saturday, hours after completing a fitness test to join the Hamilton County Police Association's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.

        The Hamilton County Coroner's Office has not yet released the cause of death.

Family traditions
[photo] Tracy Terrell, daughter of Forest Park police Lt. Gary Terrell, watches as the flag covering Officer McDonald's casket is folded.
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        Officer McDonald's brother, Darryl McDonald-Williamson, told the packed church that, though his brother is gone, he lives on through his family.

        “If you miss his stories ... my dad told those same stories,” Mr. McDonald-Williamson said. “If you miss his competitive spirit, that competitive spirit lives in his son and it always will.”

        The officer left a profound impression on Forest Park and its residents, city officials said. Officer McDonald served as the department's Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer.

        City Manager Ray Hodges said Officer McDonald never complained, never criticized his co-workers, and nobody ever complained about him.

        “It makes it tough to summarize in a few words the many reasons why we pay tribute to Charles McDonald,” Mr. Hodges said. “We honor the man because of the honorable way that he served.”

[photo] Officer McDonald's uniform hat hung below his picture during the service at Spring Grove Cemetery's Lakeside Mausoleum.
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        Throughout the service, family and friends sobbed. Officers bowed their heads, tears in reddened eyes.

        Police Chief Col. Ken Hughes, his voice cracking, recalled a recent DARE graduation, and how Officer McDonald left a lasting impression on the students.

        “He encouraged us to do our best,” the chief said. “As a chief, you know you have a good cop ... when citizens refer to them as "their' cop. He embodied the idea the most (positive) way to show people the right thing to do is to set the example yourself.

        “I challenge you to make a difference in the lives of those you touch.”

A rose and a salute
[photo] McDonald's casket is carried from church.
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        Singly and in pairs, Forest Park officers said goodbye to their colleague, each placing a single red rose in the open casket at the front of the sanctuary. Individually they quietly reflected before slowly saluting.

        Officers came from Toledo, Hamilton, Northern Kentucky, Middletown and all over Hamilton County to pay respects. Most of the officers had never worked with Officer McDonald or even knew him.

        But they came because he was a brother.

        “It's a calling,” Hamilton Police Officer Chris Fackey said. “Once you join an organization, everyone in that organization is family.”

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