Thousands Pay Tribute to Slain Police Chief
By Elizabeth Dinan
Hampton Union, Friday, April 20, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- Thousands of police officers on motorcycles, horses, and on foot, proceeded through the streets of Hampton Thursday to say goodbye to Greenland Police Chief Mike Maloney, who was killed in the line of duty during an April 12 drug bust.
Bagpipes played, flags flew and tears were shed, while the police procession was saluted by mourning civilians who lined the streets. Some held hands over their hearts, others wiped tears from their eyes.
A pair of fire trucks with raised ladders formed an arch over Lafayette Road and held an American flag that framed the somber memorial tribute.
A hero, was how Wayne Gitlitz of Derry described Maloney. By all accounts, Maloney died a hero; shot to death while dragging other officers to safety during a bloody Greenland drug bust.
A member of the Patriot Guard Riders, Gitlitz was one of many riders who held American flags along the procession route. He said the riders support all military and law enforcement members, and while he didn't know Maloney personally, he said he was there to honor him.
A group of about 250 officers on motorcycles led the procession, riding four abreast. They were followed by hundreds of marching officers from around the region in ceremonial uniforms, some bearing colors.
A cadre of bagpipers led groups of officers who marched in formation by department. Lastly, members of the Greenland Police Department marched with a hearse carrying Maloney's flag-cloaked casket. Maloney's family rode behind in limousines.
Along the procession route, Ryan Mooney, 8, and his sister Claire, 5, held a sign they made to honor the Greenland chief.
"Thank you, Chief Maloney," it said, above a drawing Claire drew of a uniformed officer standing beneath a sun and a rainbow.
They watched the procession with their grandmother, Linda Mooney, who said she used to babysit Maloney when he was a child. She called his death a horrible tragedy.
Across the street stood retired Portsmouth Circuit Court clerk Bunny Clark, who watched while wiping tears from her eyes.
"I'll miss the hugs," said Clark, explaining that most times Maloney went to the courthouse, he had a hug for her.
Marching Manchester officers included wounded officer Dan Doherty, who was pushed in a wheelchair along the procession route. As he was wheeled along Route 1, civilians applauded him.
Seated along the route was Robert Yoho, his wife Joanne, and their dog Harley, who waited for hours for the procession to begin.
"It's very emotional and very sad," Robert said while Harley sat on his lap, instead of a flag-decorated dog bed nearby.
Before she spoke at the memorial ceremony, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., told Seacoast Media Group that Maloney was "a great human being, family man, and a true hero, putting his life on the line to save his fellow police officers."
"Especially in the last week of his career," she said. "Many people would try to make that last week uneventful. It is a great loss for the community. Just a horrible, horrible loss."
Kate and Kelly McCort got a seat along Route 1 at 8 a.m.. Kate described the procession as "something you don't see every day." Her husband said he works as an EMT with Lawrence, Mass., police and wanted to "show a little respect for someone who fell."
The funeral procession moved south along Route 1, onto Park Avenue, then to Winnacunnet High School. Scott Power and his daughter Molly held an American flag at the entrance to high school.
"We just wanted to show our respect," Molly said. "I think it's pretty amazing that everyone came today."
Retired Portsmouth police officer Steve Johnson said he never met Maloney but went to the memorial to pay his respects for a heroic member of law enforcement.
Nearby, Erin, Lauren and Andrew Muldoon sat in a red wagon. Their father, Mike, asked them, "What do we say to police officers?"
"Thank you," the children said.
Members of the Greenland Police Department escorted Maloney's casket onto the high school athletic field where the police chief was honored, celebrated and mourned.