Opinion

A state trooper's sacrifice | Celeste Gracey | Reporter's Notebook

The first time I met a Washington State Patrol Trooper, I had reported a drunk driver on SR 520.

It was around midnight, and I was heading home from an internship at the Seattle P-I when I saw the woman’s car sway between lines wherever the road snaked. She was totally sloshed.

Less than a minute after calling dispatch, I saw the man in blue speed by my little red truck. Help arrived, and I gained this unexpected sense of pride.

I never met Trooper Tony Radulescu, whose life was snatched away at the hands of a thief two weeks ago, but he was the type of man who believed with each DUI arrest, he was saving a life.

He wasn’t wrong.

As I waited behind the trooper’s Crown Vic, watching the driver in the Volvo sob in her guilt, my annoyance and anger turned to fear. She was driving a death machine 80 mph down a highway without the coherence to drive straight, much less stop. She could have killed me or some unlucky kid waiting at a red light.

Like all troopers, Radulescu saved lives we never knew were endangered. It should be to no one’s surprise that when our protectors are turned into murder victims, it strikes a bitter chord in the community.

The men who have allegedly gunned down several of our officers these past few years didn’t just murder good people, they attacked society.

They’ve declared war on a system that we’ve crafted to keep people accountable for their crimes.

Prosecutors hoped that by convicting those who helped Maurice Clemmons elude police, others would learn to disown suspected murderers. Clemmons, known to have killed four badges in Lakewood, never made it to trial, but his getaway driver earned 420 years in prison.

This effort wasn’t in vain, but as far as we now it didn’t do much in Radulescu’s case.

The Legislature did the right thing in passing the Blue Alert system this week. Similar to the Amber Alert, it will help officers track down suspects in incidences where officers have been seriously injured or murdered.

The law had been tied up in legislation for a few years. However, Radulescu’s sacrifice brought attention to the legislation. His memory is now immortalized with the law.

His son, Erick, put it well by reading a poem at his memorial.

It finished: “Do not stand in my grave and cry, I am not there – I did not die.”

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