National Police Week concludes with honors for officers, past and present

lfabian@macon.comMay 16, 2013 

Early Friday morning, William Mander laid a wreath on Forsyth Road near Napier Avenue.

The railroad underpass there was dedicated last year in honor of his late brother, Macon police officer Donald Mander.

In 1986, the 25-year-old officer left his newborn son at home and went to work.

While chasing a shoplifting suspect on foot, Mander’s organs shifted into his chest through a hole in his diaphragm.

He went into a coma and died about two weeks later, his younger brother said.

As National Police Week draws to a close, the surviving Mander wanted to honor the memory of his big brother and the contributions of current officers.

William Mander, who works in property enforcement for Macon’s Economic and Community Development Department, also will recognize two Monroe County deputies Friday night for their service in Macon’s Freedom Park Softball League for girls 6 and under.

Sgt. Michael Clay and deputy Troy Copeland help coach Mander’s 5-year-old daughter, Kaylee.

“I thought it was so nice of these guys to come out there in their uniforms,” Mander said. “It’s like having private security.”

More importantly, Clay and Copeland are role models for the youngsters, he said.

Mander submitted their names to the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum in Titusville, Fla., and they will be presented with Honor Awards for Public Service.

Clay and Copeland will receive certificates, medals and lapel pins in recognition for their time spent volunteering.

“Both of these guys are excellent officers,” said Monroe County Sheriff John Cary Bittick. “It’s good for young people to see our law enforcement officers as being their friends and mentors and not just people out there enforcing the law.”

Bittick said he was fortunate to have recruited such fine deputies and referred to Clay as “one of the rising stars at the sheriff’s office.”

Mander plans to make the award presentation during the Dolphins team party at the Chick-fil-A on Arkwright Road.

For Mander, the death of his older brother was a life-changing event.

As boys, the brothers grew up together watching cop shows like “Adam-12” and “CHiPS.”

When television was just the dream of inventors, Bibb County sheriff’s deputy Franklin Leland Williams was shot to death in a gambling raid near downtown Macon in 1918.

Gov. Nathan Deal will honor Williams and his descendants at Monday’s Public Safety Memorial at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth.

Bibb Sheriff David Davis and deputies will accompany the Williams family as they receive a medal and proclamation signed by the governor, who is giving the keynote address, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

Tributes long after officers are buried can still bring comfort, said Mander.

In the years since his brother’s death, the younger Mander visited the Hall of Fame on the east coast of Florida for its police memorials for those who killed in the line of duty.

He forged relationships with the staff, who send Christmas and birthday gifts to his children from their “Uncle Don.”

“I know we can’t bring Don back,” he said. “But it kind of keeps his memory alive and it makes it easier.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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