- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2002

The National Park Service and U.S. Park Police yesterday honored two of its officers who died in the line of duty by dedicating a modernized Park Police facility in Southeast to their memory.
The Anacostia Station was dedicated to Officer Hakim A. Farthing, who was struck and killed in August on a Baltimore-Washington Parkway ramp by a woman charged with drunken driving. The Anacostia Operations Facility, which houses the station, was dedicated to Sgt. Ricardo M. Preston, who died after collapsing at a training exercise 14 years ago.
"They will be forever forever emblazoned in our history," U.S. Park Police Chief Theresa C. Chambers said of the two officers, whom she called "fallen heroes," as their families sat in the front row of the building's auditorium.
Located on the eastern shore of the Anacostia River, the upgraded building required almost four years and nearly $7.5 million to refurbish. It features a state-of-the-art gymnasium, identification-processing unit and evidence laboratory, and a firing range.
Sgt. Preston, a 14-year veteran assigned to the agency's Special Forces, collapsed Aug. 11, 1988, while jogging with colleagues after completing an obstacle course at Fort Meade, Md.
Officer Farthing, a two-year veteran, was killed early in the morning of Aug. 10 at the scene of a fatal car accident on the parkway ramp leading to New York Avenue. He had set up cones and flares directing motorists away from the accident scene when a car barreled through and struck him, police said.
"And now their legacies will continue, now and forever through this facility," said Fran P. Mainella, director of the National Park Service.
Mrs. Mainella and Chief Chambers used oversized scissors to cut a ceremonial red ribbon, and Officer Farthing's 4-year-old son, Eric Joseph, stepped on to the stage, where Mrs. Mainella handed him a small piece of the ribbon and sat him on her lap for the remainder of the service.
"It was very classy, a very nice tribute not only to the two fallen officers, but also to the concept of what the Park Police are all about," said James Farthing, Officer Farthing's father, who traveled from southern New Jersey for the dedication. "They protect the community, provide leadership, example and order. They're about doing a lot of the things that the average citizen takes for granted."
Officer Farthing's uncle, a Pennsylvania state trooper, credited the agency with adhering to its commitment.
"This was done in a dignified manner. It was an honor to be in attendance," Cpl. Joseph Farthing said. "We really appreciate the bond the U.S. Park Police has maintained with our family."
Sgt. Preston's widow, Diane, said she was pleased.
"My husband was remembered," Mrs. Preston said with a wide smile. "It's such a great honor."
Their daughter, Shate Preston, now a Montgomery County police officer, called the service "touching."
Jovada P. Welch, 20, who was indicted in September in Officer Farthing's death on charges that include second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, will stand trial in early April in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.


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