OLYMPIA, Wash. - The six Puget Sound law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty last year were honored during emotional sessions of the State House and Senate Wednesday morning.
Lawmakers unanimously passed resolutions honoring: Seattle Police officer Tim Brenton, Lakewood Police Sergeant Mark Renniger, Lakewood Officers Ron Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards and Pierce County Deputy Kent Mundell.
The officers were shot and killed within a two-month period late last year.
"This is clearly the most important resolution we will vote on this session," said Representative John Driscoll, D-Spokane.
At times, Senators and Representatives fought back tears while speaking in favor of the resolutions.
"They served us, they protected us, they gave the ultimate sacrifice any officer can give," said Senator Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood.
"I want to say thank you. We will never forget," said Senator Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, speaking to a gallery full of police officers and relatives of the fallen officers.
Maurice Clemmons killed the four Lakewood officers last November while Clemmons was out on bail.
Ramona Owens, the mother of Ron Owens, came to the Capitol wearing a tee-shirt made from a note written by her son before his death.
She called the ceremonies impressive and amazing.
"We have to make a difference, we have to go on for them," she said.
A group of police officers and other law enforcement officials worked with the governor's office to decide on issues that lawmakers could address in response to the Nov. 29 shooting by Clemmons that killed Lakewood police Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards.
One measure is a constitutional amendment that would let judges deny bail in cases that do not involve capital crimes. That bill is expected to be taken up by the House in the coming weeks.
Another measure passed by the House, on a 93-3 vote, increases death benefits for the survivors of police killed on the job.
The bill removes a current requirement that an officer serve for 10 years before their survivors can collect benefits. It also increases the lump-sum, duty-related death benefit that survivors receive and allows survivors to continue to collect benefits after they remarry, something that is not currently allowed. The measure also requires state universities and colleges to waive all tuition and fees for children and surviving spouses.
The House also unanimously approved a bill that would toughen penalties for those charged with rendering criminal assistance. Several of Clemmons friends and family face numerous charges of helping him after the murders.
All of the bills passed by the House now head to the Senate for further consideration.