From the church where the cops cried and the families cried Wednesday, the new sign could be seen. The sign says ‘Deputy Brent McCants Memorial Boulevard.’
It went up a month ago.
About 150 yards away, McCants of the York County Sheriff’s office, was shot and killed 25 years ago -- murdered during a traffic stop.
That’s why cops gather at First Baptist Church every year in the middle of May. Hundreds of cops come to sit with each other, look in the eyes of each other and say without words what Winthrop Police Department Assistant Chief Ken Scoggins whispered, a phrase every officer believes: “I got your back.”
Other families of officers who died in the 1970s and 1960s, Steve Jordan and Bill Singleton, were there. The family of S.C. Highway patrol trooper Kevin Cusack, who died on duty in a 2010 traffic wreck was there. The top officers from all York County departments gave the families flowers, and hugged them, and thanked them all.
“My son,” cried Myra McCants, mother of Brent McCants.
“My father,” said Barbara Johns, daughter of Rock Hill officer Bill Singleton.
No police officer wants to go to any event about cops getting killed, but these hundreds would not miss it. It is somber and terrible and beautiful and necessary all at the same time.
The S.C. Highway Patrol rifle team fired a salute outside the church. The shots caused every person in the building to wince.
In the audience, there were cops with scars from getting shot. Will Reap from Fort Mill Police Department is one example. His scar is from a bullet wound to his arm. Officers with knees ruined from chases and fights sat silently and still they do not quit.
The room was filled with road patrol officers and detectives who handle property crimes and fornesic technicians and dispatchers and other jobs that get almost no public recognition. They never appear in a newspaper or on television unless a complaint is filed.
A Tega Cay officer named Sgt. Robert Burns spoke at the end. He urged every officer to not be vengeful or bitter. He told them to do what they do - serve everybody the same.
“Go in peace,” he urged them all.
And they did.
Remembering York County’s fallen officers
• Kevin Cusack, S.C. Highway Patrol, March 27, 2010
• James Brent McCants, York County Sheriff’s Office, Sept. 25, 1992
• Steven Wayne Jordan, Rock Hill Police Department, Dec. 31, 1975
• William Singleton, Rock Hill Police Department, Nov. 9, 1968
• Garnett E. “Dick” Dabney, S.C. Alcohol Beverage Control, March 31, 1968
• Robert M. McFadden, Rock Hill Police Department, Nov. 3, 1933
• Elliott P. Harris, York County Police Department, July 17, 1932
• R.G. Johnston, Rock Hill Police Department, Jan. 18, 1906
• W.G. Durant, Fort Mill Police Department, Jan. 28, 1884