Ceremony honors fallen police officer

GEORGETOWN — Sunday marked a decade since Georgetown Police Patrolman Chad Spicer’s end of watch.

“Remembrance … where were you 10 years ago?” said Georgetown Mayor Bill West. “I can remember just like it was yesterday, standing in the garage, cleaning the garage and hearing all the sirens, and wondering what was going on?”

On Sept. 1, 2009, Patrolman Spicer was shot and killed as he and his patrol partner attempted to stop a vehicle that had been involved in a shooting a short time earlier. He was 29.

“What was happening in the town of Georgetown?” Mayor West recalled.

“So, I drove up to the fire hall to find out. And they didn’t want to tell me. They said, ‘Bill, just go on home.’ I couldn’t do that. I had to know what was going on. Then, it was told to me as to what had happened; Chad had been shot. And my heart just dropped, because I knew the family. I love the family. We’ve been in the town all of our life. We’re not just friends, we’re family.”

Sunday evening, family, friends, community members and Chad’s extended family of law enforcement assembled on The Circle for a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of his passing.

“Although we mark the 10th anniversary of Chad’s death, our memories of him have never faded, and our support for one another grows stronger,” said Georgetown Police Chief R.L. Hughes.

Chad Spicer

An estimated 200 people attended the ceremony that included remembrances and reflections from Georgetown Chief Hughes, Mayor West, State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and Chad’s mom, Ruth Ann Spicer.

Chad’s 13-year-old daughter, Aubrey, who was 3 at the time of his death, Sussex County Councilman John Rieley and a large contingent of town of Georgetown officers and other law enforcement representatives were among the attendees.

“The support from the law enforcement community, we are brothers and sisters. It means the world to me and it means the world to each of us,” said Chief Hughes. “No, we cannot hold him in our arms, but he fills our hearts and minds every waking moment. Chad is here. Look no further than Ruth Ann and Aubrey to see Chad.”

“Everyone I have ever met who knew Chad Spicer says amazing things about him as a young man, as an athlete, as a family man, as a father and a patrolman,” Sen. Coons said. “General Patton once said, ‘Rather than question why God takes from us such good men, we should instead thank God that such good men ever lived.’ Nothing that we say, nothing that we do can erase the pain of his loss. I cannot imagine Ruth Ann how you and Aubrey have made it through these 10 years without him. I just hope and pray that all of us gathering and all of us speaking and all of us hoping and all of us praying can hasten the day when your memories of him bring a smile before they bring a tear.”

“Just like Mayor West, I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard …,” said Sen. Pettyjohn. “We just sat down to eat dinner. It was my wife’s famous salmon, asparagus, and macaroni and cheese on a red plate. You remember those granular details about things that you were doing when you heard about such a tragedy. I remember that night like it was yesterday.”

“It’s not just the memory of that night that stays in our hearts and our minds, it’s the memory of Chad, and who he was, who he was to our community and who he was to us individually,” said Sen. Pettyjohn. “I knew Chad since he was a little boy – I was a few years older than Chad – but we all grew up around the same area together.”

Sen. Pettyjohn recalls when he learned Chad was going to be a member of the Georgetown police force. Patrolman Spicer joined the Georgetown department in September 2008.
“That is what he always to do. When he came to Georgetown, I knew he was home. That is where he really wanted to be, not just in law enforcement but to be working in the town that he called home for the people that he called family,” Sen. Pettyjohn said.

‘End of Watch’ monument honoring Chad Spicer.

The tragedy on Sept. 1, 2009, began with a shooting incident in the parking lot of the McDonald’s restaurant on DuPont Boulevard. The scene shifted in town where Patrolman Spicer, responding to a “shots fired” complaint call with his partner, was struck by a shot fired from the suspect vehicle.

Derrick Powell, the shooter, would be arrested, charged with first-degree murder and eventually convicted. Powell was given the death sentence but was subsequently resentenced to life in prison.

“As we all know, and as the men and women of law enforcement more than anyone knows, to have the enjoyment, and the peace, and the security, and the prosperity our nation knows requires sacrifice. It requires men and women of courage who are willing to come forward and sign on a dotted line,” said Sen. Coons, who addressed Chad’s mom and daughter.

“I was at a wedding last night and as I watched the bride walk down, I cried for a moment thinking about Aubrey someday will have moments in her life, a graduation, a wedding perhaps, and Chad will not be there in person,” said Sen. Coons. “We all know he will be there in spirit and as long as we hold together his memory in our hearts and are with you through these hard days and hard moments, we hope that your lives will be made richer by our deep and enduring gratitude.”

“Sen. Coons, I will tell you, yes, Chad may not be here physically, but he is here,” said Chief Hughes. “But in his stead, for some of those special moments for Aubrey … recently there was a dance that Aubrey attended and several uniformed police officers from the Georgetown Police department showed up to make sure that it was a special occasion. I’m pretty sure that is going to continue.”

Ms. Spicer said the reality that her son has been gone 10 years really hit home earlier on Sunday.
“That really hit my heart. I thought, ‘My son has been gone a decade. I can’t believe this.’ Ten years … I haven’t seen my son in that long. I haven’t had the joy with him that he and I shared, the stories that he would tell me and the laughs that we would have and the cries,” said Ms. Spicer. “He was always pulling practical jokes on me. I loved every minute of it. I just loved having my son with me. And Chad would tell you, yes, he was a mama’s boy and he loved every minute of it, and I loved every minute of it too.”

“But, you know, he was called on Sept. 1, 10 years ago by the good Lord,” said Ms. Spicer. “We all have to accept that and go on. It’s very hard. It’s very hard for Aubrey because she has to go along without a father, and I am only a grandmother. But with all these police officers, our family, I know that everyone will look out for her and I know, like R.L. said, the police officers will always be there for her. They will always show her the love and respect that her father would want her to have.”

“As I look out here today, I see a lot of family,” said Mayor West. “I want to thank everybody for being here for this day of remembrance. This town will never forget what Chad Spicer was to the town of Georgetown.”

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