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Community, law enforcement honor slain Clark County Sgt. Jeremy Brown

Hundreds of people line streets and freeway overpasses for procession

By , Columbian staff reporter
7 Photos
EMT's and firefighters from Clark County Fire District 6 stand atop a firetruck and salute as a funeral procession for Clark County Sheriff's Sgt. Jeremy Brown drives north on I-5 on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, at the NE 139th Street overpass in Vancouver.
EMT's and firefighters from Clark County Fire District 6 stand atop a firetruck and salute as a funeral procession for Clark County Sheriff's Sgt. Jeremy Brown drives north on I-5 on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, at the NE 139th Street overpass in Vancouver. (Taylor Balkom/for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Hundreds of law enforcement and first responder vehicles lined up Tuesday morning at Clark College to follow the family of slain Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Jeremy Brown to his funeral at ilani. 

The funeral procession, which left the college shortly after 11 a.m., drew police from local agencies, as well as officers from places such as Bellevue and Springfield, Ore. As the motorcade reached ilani at about 11:30 a.m., it passed an honor guard, a sea of American flags and a sheriff’s vehicle that has served as a public memorial to the fallen detective for the last week.

Hundreds of police cars from local agencies, including Vancouver, Camas, Ridgefield and the Washington State Patrol, filled one parking lot in front of the college before the start of the procession.

Clark County sheriff’s Deputy Ben Miles didn’t know what to expect but said it was nice to see so many different agencies participate. 

Miles has been with the sheriff’s office for about a year and said that although he’d only met Brown a few times at trainings, they talk about him at the sheriff’s office. 

“I hope that it never happens to me, but if it does, I hope that I would have left a good enough impression — because we talk about him and all the good that Jeremy did. And I hope that I can leave a good impression, too.”

Miles lined up just after 8 a.m., when organizers began staging law enforcement vehicles. Officers mingled in the parking lot and grabbed snacks and coffee while waiting. 

Wahkiakum County sheriff’s Deputy Lucas Getman described the atmosphere Tuesday morning as “somber.” 

“It’s really hard to accept that that’s a cost of the profession we choose,” he said, referring to Brown’s death on July 23. “But we all know it. It just really hits you when you hear about it, knowing that can be any one of us at any time.” 

Two officers from the town of Raymond drove two hours Tuesday morning to participate in the 20-minute procession and the funeral that followed. 

Officer Mason Swartz said the drive was a small sacrifice compared to what Brown gave to his community. 

This was the first law enforcement funeral Swartz has attended, but he said it’s encouraging to see the brotherhood. 

Lining the overpass

Shortly before 11 a.m., a few dozen people were already waiting on the Northeast 139th Street overpass on Interstate 5 to watch the procession. Clark County Fire District 6 trucks and an AMR ambulance were stationed on the overpass as well. People waited on other freeway overpasses along the motorcade’s route, waving flags and holding balloons, to show support for the Brown family.

“I have friends who are officers and they’re down right now,” said Jackie Purvis of Vancouver. “They’re feeling pretty depressed about the state of affairs and sad they lost their officer, and I want to show them support.”

Portland Police Bureau Officer Kyle Green called Tuesday “bittersweet” for the way the funeral brought so many agencies together for such a solemn occasion. He pointed out the hugs and quiet laughter exchanged at the college while everyone waited to do their part to honor Brown. 

45 Photos
Officers on motorcycles start the procession preceding the funeral of Clark County Sheriff's Sgt. Jeremy Brown on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, at Clark College. Brown was fatally shot on July 23 while conducting surveillance on a group of people at an east Vancouver apartment complex. Hundreds of law enforcement vehicles took place in the procession up I-5 to ilani casino in La Center. It took 15 minutes for the hundreds of vehicles to vacate the Clark College lot.
Funeral procession for slain Clark County Sheriff detective Photo Gallery

“It’s going to be a long day,” Green said. “But it’s worth it.”

Green was one of several Portland police officers at the procession. He said he appreciated that so many of them are able to participate in whatever way they can when an officer in the area is killed.

This one felt different for Green. He’s been to four law enforcement funerals — which he called “four too many” — in his 12 years in law enforcement. But this time the officer was killed in Green’s hometown. He lives in Vancouver and has friends in Clark County police agencies. He didn’t know Brown, but he said that word travels fast through the law enforcement community any time someone is killed in the line of duty. 

Wahkiakum County Undersheriff Gary Howell said these types of funerals for officers are “like coming together with family.” 

This was the eighth police funeral he’s attended, and he described each as hurting and numbing him the same way. Still, he said, it’s not so much the turnout from other police agencies that is most meaningful, but the turnout from the public. 

Tony Lugo of Vancouver felt a connection with Brown, which motivated him to come out to the 139th Street overpass along the procession route.

“Well, I’m a (Air Force) veteran. Because he’s a police officer, we share a common goal,” Lugo said. “You sign up to protect the people of the country. I felt it was important to be out here and show my support. He’s as much a vet as I am, and for him to get shot — that’s just wrong.”

Gary Smith said he felt compelled to come out Tuesday to watch the procession in support of the Brown family — his wife, Jill, and five grown children.

“Five kids … it’s tragic. And they’re trying to protect us and our community, which is important,” Smith said. “For me personally, it’s very emotional. I’m choking up even talking about it.”

Taylor Balkom contributed to this story for The Columbian.

15 Photos
Sgt. Ethan Wynecoop pays tribute to Sgt. Jeremy Brown during his celebration of life at ilani casino Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 3, 2021.
Funeral for Clark County Sgt. Jeremy Brown Photo Gallery

Officers killed in the line of duty

Nine local law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty since 1922, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Columbian archives.

Over the past decade, 1,763 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty — an average of 176 per year. There were 306 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2020 across the U.S., statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show.

July 23, 2021: Detective Jeremy Brown, Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Brown was shot in his vehicle while conducting surveillance at an east Vancouver apartment complex. The shooting investigation is ongoing.

July 30, 2004: Sgt. Brad Crawford, Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Crawford was killed when his unmarked patrol car was intentionally rammed by a pickup whose driver was fleeing a domestic disturbance at his home.

March 2, 1987: Trooper James S. Gain, Washington State Patrol. Gain died just after he had stopped a motorist for speeding on Interstate 5 near Salmon Creek. He was standing on the shoulder when a truck hit him.

Nov. 18, 1976: Deputy Martin Sowders, Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Sowders was accidentally shot and killed by another deputy during a shootout with a suspect wanted for robbing a pharmacy.

Dec. 21, 1951: Trooper Don R. Campbell Jr., Washington State Patrol. Campbell was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic.

Sept. 29, 1932: Special Agent Ballard W. Turner, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Turner was shot while raiding a still in Vancouver.

Oct. 15, 1932: Special Agent Ernest B. Vlasich, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Vlasich was shot by a suspect in Vancouver while attempting an arrest.

May 22, 1927: Clark County Sheriff Lester Wood. The newly elected sheriff and some of his deputies were searching for a still near Yacolt when Wood was confronted by a gunman. He rounded a bend and was shot and killed.

Aug. 7, 1922: Deputy Wilfred E. Rorison, Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Rorison was killed during a raid on a moonshine still when he and two prohibition agents were met by gunfire.