- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The names of two Metropolitan Police Department officers were added yesterday to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, in a ceremony mixed with fond memories and grief.

“It’s like putting something in rock and stone that you don’t yet believe,” said Marion Ashley, the mother of Sgt. John Samuel Ashley, 37.

Sgt. Ashley, a seven-year veteran, died of a heart attack May 30 while helping a Northwest family catch a runaway dog.

Three days later, Sgt. Clifton Rife II, a 13-year veteran, was killed in a shootout with a 16-year-old who tried to rob him in Oxon Hill.

Sgt. Rife, 34, identified himself as an officer and drew his gun. The youth fired first, and Sgt. Rife returned shots. Both men died.

“It just hurts,” said Sgt. Rife’s widow, Kristine, of Odenton, Md., who was accompanied by their daughter Brittany, 15, and son Clifton III, 13. “Our children remain the most important thing.”

After the officers’ names were engraved next to the 17,000 others put on the memorial since its creation 14 years ago, family members made pencil rubbings on pieces of paper for their personal memorials.

The wall engravings include the names of 110 D.C. police officers.

“There’s a piece of each and every one of us on that wall because we have met and known the dead officers,” said Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who also left with pencil rubbings.

Chief Ramsey said that upon assuming his post seven years ago, he promptly met Sgt. Ashley, who drove him around the 6th District for three hours.

“I had no clue where I was,” he said. “But he knew every street and alley.”

Craig W. Floyd, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, said losing two officers within such a short time showed “how a typical day for a law-enforcement officer can turn tragic in an instant.”

Last year, 153 law-enforcement officers were killed in the United States. The leading cause was gunshots, which killed 57. Nine died of heart attacks.

Construction will begin soon on the National Law Enforcement Museum, near the memorial at E Street NW, between Fourth and Fifth streets NW. The museum is scheduled to open in 2009.

“This is to ensure their supreme sacrifices will never be forgotten,” Mr. Floyd said.

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