In Memoriam: A Tribute to PSP Site Heroes

National Police Week, held May 12–18, 2024, pays special tribute to law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. The National Public Safety Partnership (PSP) offers a heartfelt tribute to officers from our current sites who made the ultimate sacrifice for their communities in the last year.

Sergeant Richard Carrero Mendez
Sergeant Mendez worked for the Philadelphia Police Department for nearly 23 year and was assigned to the Airport Unit. Then-Acting Police Commissioner John Stanford described him as “the fixer” for anyone he came across and said he was a hero not because he died in the line of duty but because he served as a Philadelphia police officer for more than two decades. Sergeant Mendez was awarded over 76 certifications and commendations during his law enforcement career. He was one of the first officers to be assigned to the Real Time Crime Unit as well as the Major Incidents Response Team. His colleagues said he was a computer whiz, having earned his master’s degree in business. He was posthumously promoted to sergeant and was awarded the Purple Heart and Medal of Honor. He is survived by his wife, daughter, mother, brothers, sister, nieces, and nephews.
Sergeant James Michael Russ
Sergeant Russ served the Chattanooga Police Department for 16 years after serving in the United States Navy for 20 years, retiring as a petty officer first class. At the police department, he was the supervisor of the court liaison officers and previously was a Neighborhood Police Patrol supervisor, a traffic investigator, and the neighborhood policing officer. He was a member of the Hostage Negotiations Team, the Crisis Intervention Team, the Incident Management Team, the Critical Incident Debriefing Team, and Peer Support. He was a member of Law Enforcement United—Team Chattanooga and participated in the Road to Hope, which honors fallen officers and support survivors. He also previously served on the department’s Honor Guard. He will be remembered for his kindness, integrity, and commitment to serving others. He was survived by his wife, mother, brother, nieces, and nephew.
Sergeant Philip Dale Nix
Sergeant Nix began his public service career as a 9-1-1 telecommunicator, joining the Greensboro Police Department in 2001. During his 22 years with the department, he served as a police training officer, patrol sergeant, patrol corporal, financial crimes detective, and detective sergeant of the Family Victims Unit, which investigates child abuse, domestic and sexual violence, and elder abuse. He had a passion for serving victims of abuse, and with his exceptional collaborative skills, he impacted the lives of thousands of people in his community. He was a nationally recognized leader with the National Family Justice Center Alliance and Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention and was invited to present on homicide prevention and intervention. He was a member of the department’s Honor Guard and was a Peer Support member. He received several department awards and was the department representative on several local committees and events. He is survived by his wife, children, and parents.
Police Officer Wisbens Antoine
Officer Antoine enrolled in the Knoxville Police Academy in September 2023 and was sworn in a week before his graduation after collapsing during a routine physical training session. His dedication, determination, and character were evident from the start, creating connections and earning the admiration of his peers and instructors. Officer Antoine cherished his law enforcement friendships, particularly a close group of friends he called “The Boys.” His peers and instructors described Officer Antoine as dedicated, determined, and having a strong character. His friend called him a “big teddy bear,” a compassionate and giving person who helped drive friends across the county or offered sage advice. He is survived by his wife, children, parents, and brother.
Lead Officer Adam Buckner
Lead Officer Buckner was a 2-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department and previously served for 4 years in the New Orleans, Louisiana, Police Department, where he was a detective. In June 2023, he was recognized as Midtown Officer of the Month in Tucson for his leadership and excellence, noting his work on a domestic violence and homicide case. He was assigned as lead investigator for Squad Nine. Tucson Police Chief Chad Kasmar described Officer Bucker as a “brave guardian” and an “an outstanding police officer and a hero among heroes.” “People loved his enthusiasm, his passion for the profession, and his desire to serve the community,” Chief Kasmar said. He is survived by his wife, mother, brothers, and sisters.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas Weeks
Police Officer Joshua Eyer
Investigator Samuel Poloche
Investigator William Alden Elliott
Deputy U.S. Marshal Weeks, Officer Eyer, and Investigators Poloche and Elliott were killed when trying to serve warrants in Charlotte as part of a U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. Marshal Weeks was a 13-year veteran of the Marshals Service and previously worked for 8 years with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He began his Marshals career in Washington, DC, in superior court, transferring to Charlotte in 2014. He was “a deputy’s deputy” and always did his job with a smile, said Chief Judge Robert Conrad of the Western District of North Carolina. He is survived by his wife and children. Investigator Poloche, who worked in corrections for 14 years, most recently in the Special Operations and Intelligence Unit, was remembered as a family man who loved the outdoors and often traveled to Orlando, Florida, to take his family to Disney. He is survived by a wife and children. Investigator Elliott had been in law enforcement for 15 years, beginning his career with the Overland Park, Kansas, Police Department and serving in adult corrections for 14 years, also in the Special Operations and Intelligence Unit. He is survived by his wife and child. Officer Eyer joined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in 2017 after serving as a military officer in the national guard, including a tour in Afghanistan. He was named officer of the month in April. He is survived by his wife and son.

In addition to fallen officers, PSP sites lost K-9 members of the force in the line of duty this year. Among them are: