Crime

8 Gulfport police officers have died in the line of duty

Clifton Tillman
Clifton Tillman

GULFPORT -- The Gulfport Police Department has lost eight officers in the line of duty since 1900.

Gulfport police and city and county officials remember them every year in ceremonies during National Police Week. This year's observance started Sunday and ends Saturday.

Gulfport honored its fallen officers in a wreath-laying ceremony that began at 9 a.m. at the Robert J. Curry Public Safety Center adjacent to City Hall on 15th Street.

The department has more fallen officers than any other local law enforcement agency in South Mississippi:

-- Robert J. Curry, 39, Aug. 14, 2008. Hit by a car that pulled in front of his police motorcycle on U.S. 49 near Community Road as he was en route to help escort a funeral. The motorcycle/DUI officer was married to a police officer and they had two children.

-- Buford Dedeaux, 34, June 8, 1979. Shot by a bicyclist he had stopped to question at 25th Avenue and 34th Street. Shooter was given life without parole. Dedeaux was married with five children.

-- Joe Douglas Spiers, 23, Nov. 21, 1971. Shot in the head while transporting a woman suspected of DUI who had a concealed gun. He was a U.S. Navy veteran who received two Purple Hearts after the Vietnam War. His wife was pregnant.

-- Woodrow Scarborough, 22, May 5, 1970. A vehicle pulled in front of him as he was riding his police motorcycle en route to a crash with injuries. He was a decorated Marine in the Vietnam War, having received four Purple Hearts.

-- Clifton Tillman, 43, July 3, 1943. Shot through the window of his patrol car while responding to a man threatening to kill a person at 25th Avenue and 28th Street. Tillman's shift was to end in 10 minutes. He was married.

-- Jacob Otto Wolff, 58, Sept. 8, 1937. Two men shot at Wolff and his partner as they responded to a complaint of a stolen vehicle at a tire store on 13th Street. One suspect died of his wounds from the exchange of gunfire.

-- Charles Dickey, 37, Jan. 21, 1913. The police chief, he was shot while responding to a business burglary in progress at 26th Avenue and 13th Street. The gunman, who had been on a crime spree in Gulfport and Biloxi, was convicted and executed.

-- Walter Richardson, 33, Dec. 19, 1900. The city marshal was shot in the back while responding to a disturbance call involving a pastor and his sons. One of the sons shot him in the back three times; the shooter was hanged from a tree the next day. Richardson was married.

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