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Warwick Police Dedicate Memorial to Local Fallen Officers

[CREDIT: Ret. Officer Yerv Parnagian] Members of the Warwick Police Department salute in honor of the department's five fallen officers during the dedication of a memorial to them May 18.
[CREDIT: Ret. Officer Yerv Parnagian] Members of the Warwick Police Department salute in honor of the department’s five fallen officers during the dedication of a memorial to them May 18.
Warwick, RI  — The Warwick Police Department observed National Law Enforcement Officers’ Week Wednesday with the dedication of a memorial honoring the five WPD officers who have died in the line of duty, part of the continuing efforts of department historian Inspector Chris Mathiesen.

From left: Officers Fratus and Casasanta, killed in the line of duty.
From left: Officers Fratus and Casasanta, killed by vehicles in the line of duty.

The department hosted a dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. outside Warwick Police Headquarters at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive honoring the service of Officer John B. Gendron (1902) and Officer Walter G. McQuarry (1911), both shot and killed in the line of duty. Officer Kenneth R. Fratus (1971), Captain Christopher Feeney (1971) and Officer Donald R. Casasanta (1981) were struck and killed by vehicles in the line of duty.

The memorial was established under the supervision of Warwick Police Inspector Chris Mathiesen, a 50-year veteran of the Warwick Police Department and the agency’s dogged archivist and historian.

From left, officers Gendron and Feeney, shot and killed, and struck and killed by a vehicle, respectively, in the line of duty.
From left, officers Gendron and Feeney, shot and killed, and struck and killed by a vehicle, respectively, in the line of duty.

Mathiesen is still seeking a photo of one of the fallen officers, McQuarry, so his portrait can eventually join those of Fratus and Casasanta in the community room at WPD headquarters along with the other fallen officers.

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McQuarry has also not yet been added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The other officers have been.

Mathiesen worked with Fratus the day of his death. The two were staking out the local sand dunes, where stolen electronics were being stashed, waiting for hours before arresting a man who showed up to add to the pile. After, Mathiesen went to the shooting range, and Fratus left for his traffic assignment.

Fratus was surprised by the truck which killed him, since reverse alarms were not required on large vehicles at the time.

Mathiesen said local trucks were equipped with reverse alarms shortly after Fratus’ death. Ed Peterson, the inventor of the alarms, sold the first one in 1967, according to a New York Times obituary for the inventor in 1999.

[CREDIT: Ret. Officer Yerv Parnagian] From left, Inspector Chris Mathiesen, Mayor Scott Avedisian, WPD Chief Col. Stephen McCartney, WPD Deputy Chief Michael Babula.
[CREDIT: Ret. Officer Yerv Parnagian] From left, Inspector Chris Mathiesen, Mayor Scott Avedisian, WPD Chief Col. Stephen McCartney, WPD Deputy Chief Michael Babula.
[CREDIT: Ret. Officer Yerv Parnagian]
[CREDIT: Ret. Officer Yerv Parnagian]
[CREDIT: Ret. Officer Yerv Parnagian]
[CREDIT: Ret. Officer Yerv Parnagian] Warwick Police Inspector Chris Mathiesen, who organized the creation and dedication of the fallen officers memorial at Warwick Police Headquarters at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive, with the memorial on May 18.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at editor@warwickpost.com with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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