Beloved former Lakewood Police Department Chief Bret Farrar died Tuesday after a battle with cancer.
According to Farrar’s family, he passed away in Arizona surrounded by friends and family.
“Bret played a large role in the creation of the Lakewood Police Department and served as the chief from 2008 until his retirement in April 2015,” Lakewood police said in a statement.
Farrar led the department in 2009 when a sergeant and three officers were killed in an ambush shooting.
“Bret’s commitment to the community went above and beyond his role as Police Chief. He cared about our community as demonstrated by his commitment to countless charities and service groups in Lakewood,” Lakewood City Manager John Caulfield said.
The flag outside the Lakewood Police Department was lowered to half-staff in Farrar's honor.
On Wednesday evening, 12-year-old Sterling Norris stopped by the police station to pay tribute in her own way.
"I was at my house after school and my mom told me, and it kind of made me really sad. So that's why I cam here, because I wanted to do something," said Norris.
Norris wrote a message to the former chief in chalk, just outside the police department. It's a fitting goodbye, since chalk is what first brought Norris and Farrar together in 2014.
That's when the school district told Norris her sidewalk art wasn't welcome on school grounds. Farrar heard about it, and offered Norris and her friends a different place to draw. Photos from the city's Facebook page show what happened next: Farrar not only allowed Norris to draw her sidewalk art at the police station, he also joined in on the fun.
Norris was only a third grader at the time, but remembers it well.
"He was like really nice and good to me," she said. "I really miss him."
Her experience is just one of many examples of the positive impacts Farrar had on the community.
“As much as Bret meant to the Police Department and the City of Lakewood it pales in comparison to what he meant to his family,” said Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro. “They were extremely close and I can’t imagine the loss they are feeling.”
Farrar was first diagnosed with cancer in 2010.
He served as Lakewood's chief from 2008 until his retirement in 2015. He also spent 16 years with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. On social media, the sheriff's department shared a photo of Farrar during his time with that agency, and said his leadership and service will always be remembered.