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Local reaction to Wash. manhunt

The manhunt continues for Maurice Clemmons, the man granted clemency by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and accused of shooting four Lakewood, Wash., police officers on Sunday.

There were reports Monday morning that he was holed up in a Seattle home. SWAT officers surrounded the residence but after authorities entered, they found it empty.

Meanwhile, local law enforcement officers and groups that support police are reacting to the shooting deaths of Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; Officer Ronald Owen, 37; Officer Tina Griswold, 40 and Officer Greg Richards, 42.

Authorities said the officers were in a coffee shop doing paperwork on their laptops when they were shot, and they were targeted by Clemmons because they were officers in uniform.

"It's a constant part of being a police officer -- whether you're sitting down, making a traffic stop, walking into a domestic situation -- the cold reality is that you could be killed at anytime," said Kristopher Baumann, who heads the D.C. Labor Committee for the local Fraternal Order of Police. "That's something very hard to explain to the public and it's hard for them to grasp, since they wouldn't voluntarily work a job where that kind of danger exists. But that's what makes me proud of police and what makes me proud to be a police officer."

The District-based National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks police fatalities around the country and holds a candlelight vigil each May for slain officers during its National Police Week, says that police fatalities for 2009 are down overall, by 7 percent. But the incident in Washington and other bursts of police violence this year means deaths are up by 19 percent, said spokesman Kevin Morison.

There were four other multiple-death shootings this year, in Oakland; Pittsburgh; Okaloosa County, Fla.; and Seminole County, Okla.

Morison said that the four Lakewood officers will be remembered during National Police Week in 2010. "Since Lakewood is a relatively new department, these are their first line-of-duty deaths. Once the initial shock of this incident is over, we will be working closely with the department to ensure they know what to expect from National Police Week and to make sure the surviving family members get the services offered by groups such as Concerns of Police Survivors and others," Morison said.

Meanwhile, Clemmons remains on the loose -- for now.

--Theola Labbé-DeBose

By Theola Labbé-DeBose  |  November 30, 2009; 12:31 PM ET
Categories:  Around the Nation , Theola Labbé-DeBose  
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