Seaford Police Dept. honors fallen officer with portrait

By Tony E. Windsor

The Seaford Police Department paid tribute recently to one of its own during an awards ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 19. The police department held its annual awards ceremony at the Seaford Fire Hall and dedicated a portion of the evening to an officer who died in the line of duty in 1970.

In prefacing his comments about Pfc. James Henry Hill, who died of a heart attack while on duty on July 10, 1970, Seaford Chief Gary Flood brought attention to the number of police officers nationwide who have died in service to their respective communities and states. I would like all of you to keep in your minds and hearts all of the law enforcement officers that have made the ultimate sacrifice this year, he said. There have been 140 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Flood said 63 were killed by gunfire, which is up by 72 percent and 55 were killed traffic accidents, which is up by 17 percent. He said traffic crashes are the number two killer of officers. He said the significant number of law enforcement deaths is concerning. This is unacceptable and we must do better, he said. Flood said that the month of November yielded the highest number of deaths for the year at 21.

With a full complement of Seafords Police Department in attendance, Flood cautioned the men and women about being especially careful in the wake of recent violence against police officers across the nation. The world we live in is constantly changing and sadly sometimes not for the best, he said. So I will preach that as you go about your duties always, always be vigilant, be mindful of your surroundings, looking behind you frequently. Remember your training not just when you are on duty but when you are off duty with your families.

He said the officers should consider taking different routes home to avoid leading the bad guys to your home. Flood said officers have been involved in two cases where the suspects in criminal cases were actually doing counter-surveillance of officers. If you dont think the bad guys are watching you, you are dead wrong, Flood said. Dont be dead wrong and dont be a statistic.

After a moment of silence in honor of those police officers killed in the line of duty, Flood reminded the audience that Seaford Police Officer Hills name is on the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. and the State of Delawares Memorial in Dover among those who have died in the line of duty.

Hill, a three-year veteran of the Seaford Police Department, was working the night shift when he began to experience chest pains. Flood said the officer drove himself to Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, but succumbed to a heart attack at about 8 p.m. Hill was a graduate of Seaford High School and served with the United States Navy, retiring in 1964.

Former Police Chief Bob Miller was in attendance for the tribute and served with Hill. I remember Jim well, he said. We spent a lot of time together working shifts. He was a really great guy; a really caring person. I always thought that even though he was a good police officer, he could have been just as good in other jobs. I always remember that whenever he would stop someone for speeding or face charging someone for an incident, he would call on one of us to help him figure a way that he could avoid having to be too hard on them. He had a big heart, but I think that made it a little harder for him to do the things that police officers have to do sometimes.

Flood said the police department could never locate a photo of Hill that could be used to honor him. That was until local historian, Jim Bowden, researched the officer and found a photo in an old newspaper clipping. Knowing the story of Hill and his untimely death, Bowden set out to find a way to ensure that the police department could honor the officer.

Bowden recognized that the photo, which was less than perfect due to the age of the newspaper, would need to be processed by someone who possessed a special artistic talent to replicate the photo. Bowden contacted local artist Nancy LaPrad, who took the photo and developed a painting of Pfc. Hill.

Wanting to make sure that the painting could be displayed long term in the hall of the Seaford Police Station, Bowden contacted Seaford framer Chuck Fryling, who professionally framed the painting, including using special UV glass to preserve its integrity.

Flood presented the portrait and expressed appreciation for Bowdens efforts to help ensure that officer Hill would be remembered. The painting of Pfc. Hill will forever be placed in the hallway of the Seaford Police Department and he will never be forgotten, he said.

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